The Congo Town facilities of the Ministry of Health (MOH) were yesterday shut down by fire that destroyed the ministry’s three generators.
Pandemonium broke loose when employees, who reported to work early yesterday, were seen running helter-skelter as the fire raged in the engines of the generators.
“Even though there was no human casualty reported, activities at the ministry will remain nonfunctional until an alternative supply of electricity is restored, or new generators are purchased,” one female employee remarked.
Before firefighters from the Liberia National Fire Service (LNFS) could arrive, the situation had worsened, with all three generators gutted by the flames. Warsuwah Barvoul, LNFS Director, told reporters that the situation would have worsened had the firemen not been there to put out the flames.
Up to press time last night, the cause of the fire was yet to be established. However, Barvoul promised to investigate what led to yesterday’s disaster.
MOH Director of Press and Public Affairs, Sorbor George, described the incident as a “great setback to the ministry’s operations.”
He put the cost of each damaged 750 KVA generator at US$300,000.
“This is a serious setback to the ministry, because without these generators, normal operations will not go on here. No effective job can go on in any functional institution nowadays in the absence of electricity,” Mr. George said.
In the absence of findings from the pending investigation to establish the cause of the fire incident, Mr. George attributed the cause to “electrical shock.”
However, an employee from the maintenance department, who spoke to this newspaper on condition of anonymity, claimed that yesterday’s incident was a result of “overheating.”
It may be recalled that on July 23, 2014, the ministry’s main conference room suffered an arson attack by a man believed to be in his early 30s. The arsonist, unofficially identified as Edward Willington Bailey, alleged at the time that he set the ministry ablaze because his 14-year-old younger brother (name not given) had reportedly died from the deadly Ebola virus, which was raging in the country.
“Because the health workers and the government abandoned my brother to die,” Bailey said at the time, “so I decided to burn down the Health Ministry.”