Liberia: Lockdown for Cars or People?

Joint Security officers enforcing the State of Emergency and lockdown at various checkpoints across Monrovia are more concerned of inspecting moving vehicles than pedestrians glaringly ignoring social distancing in the streets thus, exposing themselves to contracting the novel coronavirus.

At various checkpoints in the city and parts adjacent during lockdown period, Police, immigration and drugs enforcement officers are reluctant in questioning or regulating citizens clustered, moving about.

In the populated slum community of Clara Town, residents took the streets Sunday, May 24th, like a beach party passing checkpoints without social distancing or hands watching while security officers stood by and watched.

They failed to enforce health regulations announced by the government. This is the similar case observed by this paper in other communities, including West Point Township, Logan Town, New Keu Town, and Duala all in the Monrovia suburb of Bushrod Island.

At the New Georgia junction checkpoint along Somalia Drive on the outskirt of Monrovia, a police officer remarked rather mockingly, that the government should lift the State of Emergency and lockdown so people can resume normal activities, when this paper asked why the lackluster approach.

At Barnesville junction, a police officer was blunt when he said, if security officers enforce the regulations with vigilance, they receive criticisms from the public or are accused of being brutal, so they are caught between the scissors.

These behaviors or apparent lack of vigilance by law enforcers are unfolding at a time President George Manneh Weah has relaxed the 3:00 pm lockdown to 6:00pm amid rumors of plan to resume normal economic activities and re-open schools across the country.As of Sunday, May 24th Liberia has recorded 265 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 98 active cases, 26 deaths and 141 recoveries, according to statistics from the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, NPHIL.

From initial two affected counties, strings of cases and deaths are being reported in nearly all 15 counties, raising the probability that the curve could rise further and create a serious nightmare for Liberians.

Many ordinary citizens are apprehensive about the looming plan to re-open schools, particularly when health authorities here are not confident or bold enough to state clearly progress made on the front line with out of the 26 deaths, only two occurring inside the treatment center at the 14th Military Hospital.

Health authorities in Monrovia reported for testing recently to encourage the public to do same, but the three testing centers established by the government are virtually empty daily with nobody coming forth either for lack of awareness or fear.

"We gather this morning to do our specimens collections in order to set examples for our citizens to follow", said Liberia's Health Minister, Doctor Wilehmina Jallah at the testing center inside the Samuel Kanon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville. By Jonathan Browne

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