Border guards lack PPEs to fight COVID-19

Security personnel deployed at the Dambala town border crossing point with Liberia in Nomo Faama Chiefdom have complained that they have no personal protective equipment (PPEs) to prevent them from contacting COVID-19 while patrolling the border points. Dambala Chiefdom is about 45 miles away from Kenema City with close to 600 residents living in less than one hundred houses. This Chiefdom can be accessed through extremely rugged roads that are not motorable during the rains. The township is very quiet during the day with children running half naked around while the few elders could be seen standing distance away from each other with locally designed face masks, while the three Military personnel deployed at the border point sit under the trees close to the river seeking refuge from the bright sunlight. According to the Town Pastor and also Teacher, Christopher Momoh Johnny, Sierra Leoneans trapped in some of the border villages in Liberia after the official closing of the border points tried to enter Sierra Leone through a river leading to their village. This he disclosed sparked serious confrontation as the youths in Dambala town and neighboring villages stood their grounds with machetes and sticks preventing people from the Liberian side from entering in fear of importing COVID-19 into their villages. He disclosed that the ugly situation led to the deployment of three armed military personnel manning the riverside from various locations, patrolling on foot day and night. According to Sergeant Bundu deployed at the Dambala border crossing point, they have been deployed in that community for more than a month now, patrolling day and night to prevent anyone from crossing. He disclosed that since their deployment, they were only provided with one theatre facemask each by the Community Health Officer in Nomo town, which is about 6 miles from Dambala, and this is what they have been using on a daily basis, laundering it at night. Sergeant Bundu said, except for the facemask, they do not have any other form of protection as they only rely on the community people to provide them with hand washing facilities to keep them healthy. According to him, almost on a daily basis people are attempting to cross over the river from Liberia in their hundreds at night but they persistently prevent them using their weapons to threaten them. He called on the relevant authorities to ensure they send them PPEs on time for them to continue to protect the people and themselves from contacting the virus. Communication is another major challenge facing them together with deplorable road conditions. He disclosed that hundreds of Sierra Leoneans are trapped in Moolah, Nyekekeh, Kluanah, Ngombu, Moke-nduya and Said Camp in Liberia waiting to come over but will only have access when the border is open. He further disclosed that they are working closely with the community people in ensuring they protect the river and surrounding villages.

By Alhaji Manika Kamara