Liberia: Citizens Concerned About Hunger, Safety During COVID-19 Lockdown

President George M. Weah (file photo).

What usually is a jam packed commercial center of Red Light is now deserted as of 3pm each day for the next 14 to 21 days, due to the COVID-19 lock-down.

Hundreds of ordinary Liberians, many marketers at the commercial hub of Red Light, Paynesville, have said they and their respective families may die of hunger should the lock-down continue without any stimulus package from the government.

Extremely agitated over the lack of better business climate in order for them to raise some money for food and other basic needs, several of them said it may become very difficult for them in the next few days.

"I am a single mother and I sell these items (soap, chlora), before I get money to buy a few cups of rice to feed my children. I don't have any savings, and I am renting," Finda Thomas, a single mother of three explained.

Ms. Thomas said she cannot afford purchasing a 25kg bag of rice because she hardly raises enough money.

"My boyfriend who I bore the children with has left me. He is not even here in Monrovia and there is no connection between us right now to get him help me feed the children," she lamented on her ordeal.

The young lady who said she lived on the Pipeline Road is worried that the 3:00 p.m. curfew is too short to quit businesses in Red Light, stating that it can not attract more customers in order to make reasonable profits.

"People are after food now and so since this morning I was able to sell only L$260 of soap. I used L$40 to eat doughnut and drink water. I have to pay L$50 as fare for motorbike to travel home. Now I don't know how my children will eat today," Finda broke down in tears as she walked away, in an effort to escape securities' brutality.

Red Light is Liberia's biggest commercial hub. Thousands of people assemble there for business, other reasons but now it is a ghost town due to lock-down.

A young man believed to be in his early thirties said he was afraid as criminal activities may escalate throughout communities across Monrovia and its environs soon.

Although he preferred not to call his name, he spoke with no apology that he and his friends will do all they can to avoid the streets during the day but will ensure they get their daily bread in the night time of each day of the lock-down.

"But the government na want us to hustle and make our own money. They are not giving us anything for us to sit down home and find something to eat. We will not die of hunger; some people will feel us at night. We too got to live," the young man told the Daily Observer as he walked away.

Several other men and women were seen running to catch up with the lock-down deadline and were heard complaining of hunger.

"Ebola was better than this other sickness. There is so much fear instilled in us. We are worried, and I am afraid some people may have food to eat but pressure (hypertension) may kill them," Emmanuel Gatie, a money exchanger said.

Gatie said due to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus, many curable diseases like malaria, common cold, typhoid and many others, bearing similar symptoms, may kill many people in the country.

"As it was with Ebola, there is no more HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and many more other deadly diseases. The world is in a crisis that is not only detrimental to our generation but even the nearest posterity," Gatie, a University of Liberia graduate said.

According to him, inasmuch as it is clearly known that Liberia does not have nearly as much capacity as other countries who are giving out some assistance to their citizens, some sacrifice should be made by all top officials to help the less fortunate population.

He meanwhile called on his fellow country men and women to obey government's orders aimed at containing the deadly virus.

The Daily Observer also toured through the GSA Road and Duport Road communities in Paynesville. In both areas, there was so much panic in the eyes of the residents and passersby as the lockdown entered its second of 21 days announced by President Weah on Wednesday April 8, 2020.

Using Articles 86, 87 and 88, of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, President Weah declared a state of emergency for the entire 43,000 square miles (15 Counties) and a lock-down for Montserrado, Margibi, Nimba and Grand Kru Counties.

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