FrontPageAfrica (Monrovia)

31 July 2014

Liberia: Amid Ebola, Buses, Taxi Cabs Ordered to Reduce Passengers

Commercial buses and taxi cabs drivers who often load passengers above the normal seating capacity due to the shortage of commercial vehicles will now have to reduce their passengers or face arrest and prosecution.

Justice Minister Christian Tah issued the order along with several other measures Wednesday in what she referred to as preventive security measures aimed at preventing the further spread of the deadly Ebola virus which has claimed several lives, including that of medical practitioners since the virus outbreak into the country from neighboring Guinea in March.

"Police officers on the scene of overcrowded vehicles and do not make any arrest if caught, you will be dismissed" said Justice Minister Jah at her first press Conference since the Supreme Court lifted her six months suspension held Wednesday at her Sinkor office, which was attended by heads of every security apparatus in the country and that of the Deputy Minister of Information for Public Affairs, Isaac Jackson, Assistant Health Minister for Preventive Affairs Tolbert Nyensuah.

She stated that as part of the security preventive measures the police would arrest vehicles that fail to adhere to overcrowding and those in the habit of spreading false information about the Ebola outbreak as well as confiscate bush meat that will be placed on sale which has been considered as one of the carriers of the deadly Ebola virus.

The Justice Minister promised to provide police protection for health workers because of a number of threats coming out of some communities and called on the public not to misconstrue the measures taken by the Justice Ministry as it is not intended to harm anyone but for the protection of the citizenry against the deadly Ebola virus and called on media practitioner not to allow their different media outlets to disseminate misinformation on this deadly virus. She dispelled the rumors of any move by the government for the state of emergency neither any idea of the cancellation of the pending Legislative election slated for October due to the outbreak of the Ebola virus.

According to the Justice Minister the borders that are left open in the country due to the virus outbreak will be manned by health workers backed by police officers and claimed that anyone moving through these borders will have to undergo tests there. Police boss Chris Massaquoi, who also spoke at the press conference stated that the police is in readiness to enforce the requisite traffic law, in connection with overcrowding as the law says that a taxi cab requires only four passengers.

The boss also stated that the police will contain all areas where there has been the virus outbreak, adding that no vehicle will go in, neither any vehicle leaves the affected areas and called on the public to cooperate in the process where police officers and health workers are at a checkpoint carrying out Ebola test.

Solicitor General Betty Larmie Blamo called on the public to be aware that government will be asking anyone out of their homes whenever there is an outbreak of the virus in that home because the law provides for that and shouldn't be seen as infringement on the rights of anyone while Deputy Information Minister Isaac Jackson warned against misinformation of the Ebola virus and added that why it is true that the government respects free speech it will not tolerate misinformation about this deadly virus.

Assistant Health Minister Tolbert Nyensuah whose division is handling the Ebola crisis stated that two testing centers have been set up in the country to test anyone suspected of the virus one near Foya in Lofa County and another at the Liberia Institute of Biomedical Research (LIBR) on the outskirt of the Roberts International Airport (RIA).

He also stated that Ebola symptoms can be observed from two-21 days and called on the public to constantly follow the preventive measures by washing hands with soap, chloride because the virus though deadly but weak and quick to die when these measures are applied.

On the question of the death of a consultant Patrick Sawyer from the Ministry of Finance, Assistant Minister Nyensuah said that 54 contacts have been made at the Finance Ministry as well as every area that the deceased traveled and warned that being contacted does not mean that the person has Ebola.

According to Assistant Minister Nyensuah the Ebola virus had claimed the lives of 28 health workers while 45 cases pending and disclosed that two international Non-Government Organizations working with the government to fight Ebola Medicine San Frontier (MSF) and that of the Samaritan Purse had plan to pull out of the country due to instability following the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

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