The Ebola crisis has handed Liberia its most serious medical crisis in its 169 year-history. It came at a time when the nation was poised to mark of the most important achievements in its post-war history, the rebuilding and reinstallation of the Mount Coffee Hydro Electric Plant. The first phase was scheduled to be by completed in December 2015, supplying 20 megawatts; while the second phase was due for completion in June 2016, when the full 80 megawatt capacity was due to be generated, up from the original 64 megawatts. It was Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front forces that destroyed the entire hydro at the onset of the civil war in 1990. Since that time, the Interim Government of National Unity did nothing to safeguard the hydro’s assets and whole scale looting ensured, with scrap dealers dismantling and pilfering everything in sight.
Now, just as the hydro engineers had commenced their work in earnest to restore the plant and meet the December 2015 deadline, the deadly Ebola epidemic hit, placing everything in Liberia into disarray.
Most of the expatriate hydro engineers have left. So have those working also on the two 10-megawatt plants, one financed by the Japanese government and the other by the World Bank; and on the GOL’ 18-megawatt plant.
But we at the Daily Observer are eternal optimists, and refuse to let anything defeat us or our country. Despite the rapid spread of the disease and people dropping dead in many places, we strongly believe, as we said in a recent editorial, that “this, too, shall pass.”
Yes, Liberia can and will overcome this epidemic and things will be restored to normalcy, so that the government and people may get back to the business of reconstruction and development.
The first urgent point we wish to make here is to call on the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, which has oversight of the country’s energy program, Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC), which is chiefly responsible for electrification and the entire state security aparatus, to exert every effort to safeguard all hydro and other electrification assets, in order to ensure that when the works are resumed, nothing shall have been lost.
We know our people. We also know that being as unpatriotic and self-destructive as some of us often are, there are many who will seize the opportunity of the current crisis to steal and loot any and everything in sight, not realizing they are doing it to themselves, since they and their very wives, children and other relatives, and the nation and people as a whole, stand to benefit from these very developments.
The chief LEC communication officer, Hassan Kiawu, confirmed to this newspaper last weekend, that the expatriates on the Hydro plant and the three thermal plants at Bushrod Island are continuing their work in their respective countries, Germany, Canada, etc. A skeletal Liberian staff is continuing their work at Bushrod Island.
The second point we make in this editorial is to call on the GOL to intensify its efforts to defeat Ebola, by making maximum use of all the resources that have been put in place and those contributed by the development partners in a concerted and determined effort to end Ebola in our country.
Thirdly, we call on all Liberians to cooperate fully and decisively with their government, in a determined bid to defeat Ebola and heal our country and people again.
If within the next two months we can rid our country of this disease and make Liberia safe again, we will be able to resume of normal activities, work and school, and the task of reconstruction and development.
Let each individual citizen and resident continue to clean not only our hands, bodies and homes, but also our neighborhoods, towns and cities, removing all dirt from the dumpsites. If we can do this, and we believe we surely can, we would have solved at least half the problem.
Let also everyone who is detected of the virus immediately report himself or herself to the health authorities and do everything to ensure that no one else is infected.
We urge the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Mr. Jallah Dorbor, National Ebola Task Force Coordinator, and his entire team to exert their best efforts defeat the virus. We pray, too, that the GOL will equip them with the financial resources that will empower them successfully to complete the job.