Today’s Editorial is calling on all Liberian families—all our people—to stop using generators inside your homes. If you don’t, you and your family will die!
We are making this passionate plea as a result of yesterday’s tragic back page story in the Daily Observer, which told of a family of five—a mother and four children, including a brilliant seventh grade student at one of the nation’s leading schools, GSA Road’s Aware International—that perished from inhaling the deadly chemical, carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces. Also called CO, this deadly chemical can build up indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it.
That is what happened early last week to a mother and her four children, identified as the Manyounga family, at Cow Field, off Du Port Road, Paynesville, a Monrovia suburb. The mother’s name was Ms. Owiner and the children, Marie, 17, Marmash, 9, Prince, a frequent visitor, and Hunt Jeff Manyounga, the Aware International student.
A caring next-door neighbor, Ms. Cecelia B. Jallah, was gracious enough to speak to our reporter. She told him, “Sis Owiner and I were sitting outside around 10 o’clock p.m. when she (Sis Owiner) called a boy from the next yard to switch on the generator.” Ms. Jallah and several other neighbors sent their phones into Owiner’s home to be charged. “By 11:00 p.m. she asked the same boy and her eldest son relocate the generator to the kitchen. She then told us the generator was going to sleep on so that her water and juices could freeze better.”
The following morning Ms. Jallah said the neighborhood became alarmed when they saw neither Ms. Manyounga or her children. Then the motorcyclist who regularly came to transport the children to school could get no response after persistently knocking on the family’s door. “Later that morning when she and the neighbors went to check on the family, we discovered that all of them were dead!” the alarmed and sorrowful Cecelia told our reporter.
We are constrained at this point in this Editorial to put this question to two of our most important institutions—the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) and the Liberian Presidency, in the person of President George Weah: How long will we Liberians have to suffer and die from LEC’S ineffectiveness?
How long will our small business people—and the national economy as a whole—continue to suffer and fail because there is no reliable source of energy (electricity) in the country?
Believe it or not, this is why this woman and her children died—because of no electricity. If there had been reliable and inexpensive electricity, this woman would not have needed a generator. But there are tens of thousands of families like hers who know that without a generator their children would not be able to study at night; nor would the parents be able to run their very small businesses selling cold water, juices and other edibles (foods) that need cooling.
One of the targets of this Editorial is also the National Fire Service (NFS). Where is their public education component that should constantly warn people of the dangers of turning on generators inside the home and the passing on to the general public of other vital information?
The City Councils throughout the country are also called into question here. At this time when there global concern about the health of nations and peoples throughout the world, in the face of the global Coronavirus emergency, our city councils and town leaders have a particular and urgent responsibility to keep the neighborhoods, towns and cities clean.
When last, for example, did the Paynesville City Mayor visit Somalia Drive to see the public throwing trash all along the route where our Japanese friends are giving us a major new highway—free of charge! What a way for a country to say thank you to a foreign country which is helping Liberia in such a concrete way!
We call on the Weah administration, the LEC, the National Fire Service and all other relevant agencies to join in providing public information about all the dangers we Liberians face in this energy crisis facing our nation and people.