Liberia: Ganta Residents Perplexed By State of Emergency

The view of Ganta after President Weah declared the State of Emergency

Although preempted earlier by some farsighted people that there would be a lockdown and a state of emergency as it is happening in other parts of the world due to the Coronavirus, a lot of people in Nimba, mainly the commercial city of Ganta, least expected the declaration of a state of emergency on Wednesday afternoon of Apirl 8, 2020.

Movements have turned very slow with a low number of people plying the busy streets of Ganta as store owners reluctantly open business centers with little or no hope of receiving customers. However, a few people who are financially capacitated are seen entering stores and purchasing bags of rice and other ingredient with the thought that prices of these basic commodities may soon increase.

On the other hand, after the declaration of a state of emergency, less fortunate residents fear and worry over how they are going to provide the basic needs of their families.

A couple of citizens who spoke to this reporter said the state of emergency and the lockdown will seriously hamper and deprive them from carrying on their daily hustle to support their families. Under a state of emergency due to a threat to human wellbeing, the government disallows certain rights of citizens including movement and speech to be exercised.

Comfort Gbor, a petty business owner in Ganta said: "We cannot ignore the President's orders, but it will hamper our daily activities we depend on to sustain ourselves. I am in a weekly susu, what happens to those who have not taken their shares and how are we going to generate money to pay back others," she wondered.

"Locking down the country is bad; we don't have the resources to purchase enough food for the stay home order," said Fanta, a bartender.

Ganta is one of the busiest business centers in Liberia outside of the state capital, Monrovia, and is situated along the country's border with Guinea, a hotspot for cross-border trade. But as the state of emergency was declared on Wednesday, a lot of people began leaving Ganta for remote villages in Nimba and beyond.

"This State of Emergency will certainly hamper our business and leave us into debt with our suppliers, because people have just begun leaving the city for safety elsewhere," said Kou Wleyou, proprietor of City Promoter Business Center. "Some of us have the means of feeding ourselves, but what happens to the disabled or the blind, who are begging around daily?" she wondered.

She then appealed to the government to be moderate in dealing with the situation so that people will be allowed to carry out their daily chores as it has usually been.

The skepticism many have is that while the government may have the right to declare a state of emergency, not much is put in place to sustain the citizens in this lockdown period.

Many on the day of the declaration appeared very sad, especially petty traders who roam the streets with their goods to sell.

Nevertheless, there are still others who are appreciative of the decision by the government to declare a state of emergency.

"The decision will help to prevent and contain the spread of the virus," said Paul Zorpeawon, an owner and operator of His Grace Business Center.

There is a reported death case of COVID-19 from Tappita in lower Nimba County.

There are growing numbers of cases of COVID-19 in the two countries that have borders with Nimba.

According to WHO April 8, 2020 statistic, Guinea has about 144 confirmed cases with no death, while Ivory Coast has 349 cases with 3 deaths reported.

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