The head of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN), Commissioner Lemuel Reeves, Monday, April 14, traveled to Lofa County to visit “every functioning border,” in that county.
Speaking to our reporter in an exclusive interview at his BIN office last Tuesday, April 8, Commissioner Reeves explained that they were working closely with the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare to protect the public; especially around the border regions where the current Ebola virus outbreak in the country began.
According to him, “there will be two border visitation teams; one will leave for the Southeastern region, and I will take the other team to Lofa where we will inspect those borders and come up with recommendations for the Health Ministry in the fight against this [Ebola] virus.”
He expressed his opinion that closing the borders would not solve the problem of the virus being spread and added “We are working with the MOH and our other partners to protect the country against the spread of the virus while keeping the borders safe.”
Mr. Reeves said BIN officers at various borders have received protective gear from the Health Ministry.
He said that the country’s borders were very porous, with an unofficial estimate of over 130 illegal pathways being used by people from neighboring countries.
“The visits to the various borders in the region are important because we need to know what is happening in those areas and what major things we can work on to stop the Ebola virus from spreading,” The Commissioner explained.
According to him, BIN has been working closely with chiefs, villagers, and other community residents to protect the unofficial routes of entry into the country. He said that some villagers have been able to notify officers at the borders about illegal crossings taking place. As a result of this, measures have been put in place to watch the borders effectively.
The Commissioner commended all of BIN’s partners, including the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). He also commended the GoL, through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, for ensuring that BIN is capacitated to protect the borders of Liberia and its people.
“We have a total of 176 borders guarded by Liberian security personnel. Last year only 36 were fully operational, and we added an additional nine to increase it to 45. We are making sure we add 15 every year so the number will be gradually increased by 2017,” he stated.
Commissioner Reeves said the BIN was low on vehicles to run its many operations on the borders of the country.
“We managed to get some bikes through the office of the Vice President of Liberia, Joseph N. Boakai, in 2010. These vehicles are no longer in good condition, and we still have to carry out regular border patrols to ensure the best protection for the nation,” he concluded.