After a year of closure for the Coronavirus, Liberia’s main with Guinea, at Ganta, Nimba County, was officially opened on Saturday, February 27, upon the visit by some officials of the Ministry of Health, headed by Minister Wilhelmina Jallah.
The opening of the border brought joy among the residents of Ganta as well as the citizens of Guinea.
Immediately after the opening, a huge crowd of people was seen crossing the border from either side as a means of showing how happy and relieved they were.
The Ministry of Health says it has put in place strong health protocols, ranging from wearing nose masks to washing of hands and temperature checking of all travelers.
“This opening is under strong restriction, where everybody is forced to get down from the car, wash his or her hands, wear nose mask and do temperature checking,” said, William Budy, Commander, Liberia Immigration Service (LIS).
“All travelers will get down outside the checkpoint and go through all the health protocols before moving to the other end,” he added.
Minister Jallah and team, upon viewing the health protocols put in place at the border, ordered the border opened and said: “I will inform the Ministry of Justice and the president.”
Ganta Main Border is one of the sources of revenue in Liberia, but the outbreak of COVID 19 forced the government to close the border, halting the movements of people. During the 2019 Fiscal year, the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) among others recognized the Ganta Port of Entry and the Loguatuo Border as the highest contributors to domestic revenue in the Land Border Custom Based Category.
The closure of the border hindered petty traders who rely on Guinea to get agricultural products such as pepper, groundnuts and beans, among others, for the local markets in Nimba and other surrounding counties.
During the closure, the local traders took advantage of the porous borderline to smuggle goods.
The Liberia Immigration Service told this paper that because of the borderline is so porous, it is very hard to maintain law and order. According to Immigration sources, nearly all the villages along the borderline have canoes that people use to cross people illegally with goods.
The opening of the border, therefore, brought relief to businesspeople and it may curtail using illegal crossing points or bypasses although, during the normal opening, people still use illegal means to cross with goods to avoid taxes or bring in illegal goods and other materials into the country.
“We do have the manpower to guard the borderlines, but because it is so porous, where all the villages along the border have their own canoes, we find it difficult. In fact, sometimes the people bring their Poro Master (Country Devil) outside to deter any officer from cracking down on any illegal activity,” an Immigration officer said.