Several residents of Ganta last Sunday joined security officials to witness the re-opening of the border with Guinea, in a demonstration of relief after the Liberian Government ordered the border closed more than ten months ago, due to the Ebola outbreak in both countries.
Both citizens of the two countries were seen rejoicing when the chain on the Liberian side of the border was untied and removed, upon the orders of Ganta Border Commander Maj. Betty Benson.
She explained to the jubilant crowd that the closing of the border was due to the Ebola outbreak that hit the three Mano River countries, killing about 9,000 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
“Now that the outbreak of Ebola is subsiding, the government decided to open the border for cross border activities, but we should be cognizant about the Ebola and apply all the preventive measures,” Major Benson added.
Buckets filled with chlorinated water for hand washing were placed at various points on the bridge as well as the main entrance of the Immigration office.
In 2010, the Ganta Border ranged 4th in the collection of revenue, according to a report from Ministry of Finance & Development Planning. The advent of the Ebola Virus Disease and the subsequent border closure put a halt to cross-border trade between the two countries.
The news of the border re-opening spread across Nimba County like wild fire. Most of Liberia’s agricultural produce, including pepper, beans and grand nuts, among others, are imported from Guinea.
During a recent tour by the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Vigilante, in Ganta on Feb. 17, joint security officers informed him that despite the border closure, illegal trade was still going on and lack of logistics was hampering their work.
“If the border is opened, illegal cross border activities will be curtailed,” a spokesman said.
He mentioned the lack of mobility and other logistics as serious impediments affecting their operations to curtail illegal trade across the border.