Illegal border crossings at the Liberia-Guinea border is becoming alarming and state security appear to be unable to control it.
The illegal crossings intensified due to the closure of the Liberia-Guinea border since the Ebola outbreak began to escalate in the Mano River countries in July 2014.
Even though the main border points are said to still be closed, there are many smaller crossing points especially beginning from Ganta to Yekepa that are still active.
Around the Ganta main border, there are about four illegal border points with active traffic, including the daily smuggling of goods taking place.
Gasoline, rice and other commodities are said to be smuggled into Guinea in huge quantities, while at the same time the smugglers bring in cotton and other agricultural produce to Liberia.
During a visit by this reporter to one of the illegal crossing points around the Ganta Community called Glanyeelu on 17th January, there was a lot of cross-border activity on the Liberian side of the border while on the Guinean side, illegal traders, including some Guinean security, were seen with goods such as petroleum products, crossing them over from Liberia.
The actual controllers of these crossing points are yet to be identified, but upon the visit of this reporter to the crossing points, several youth were seen in work clothes close to the crossing points, which nearby residents noticed as the youth involved in crossing smugglers with the consent of the security assigned in Ganta.
Even though the youth couldn’t tell me what really they were doing there at that time, one of them said, “Presently, we are not doing anything so every day we come here to do our hustle.”
The City of Ganta extends as far as the border with Guinea, which makes it hard for the security to track down the smuggling and the illegal crossings.
Every day containers of gasoline, rice and other commodities from Ganta are seen in large quantities on vehicles or motorcycles heading for the Guinea border, but how they can get to the border without the consent of the security is yet to be established.
On 23rd January, the Immigration, with support from the Gbarnga Hub, raided several illegal crossing points around Ganta and seized huge quantities of goods (agriculture produce) from smugglers.
The next day the goods were turned over to the Customs authorities at the Ganta main border for duty payment, something the custom authorities had been carrying on whenever goods from Guinea are seized by security operatives working in Ganta since the government closed the border.
However, the head of the joint security in Ganta, Maj. Betty Benson, has said that those who operate crossing points were the locals and they were doing so illegally without any regard for authority.
She said whenever they raid them and destroy their rafts, the next day they would open another area and begin crossing people again at their own will.
Illegal crossings since the closure of the border, led to the recent spill over of Ebola to Yekepa in December last year where the two main victims subsequently succumbed to the deadly disease at the Ganta ETU.
Since the closure of the border, illegal border crossing has been ongoing along the Liberia – Guinea border daily.