Sierra Leoneans breathe a sigh of respite as President Julius Maada Bio has responded to the call for ease of restrictions.
The inter-district lock down is now completely lifted and the curfew hours shifted from 9pm to 6am to 11pm to 6am.
Plans are underway to open up land and air borders for the economy to go back on track and to restore livelihoods.
A speech from throne yesterday confirmed the above claims.
“In all our decisions during this crisis, we have aimed to save lives, but we have also worked to sustain livelihoods, support the most vulnerable and keep our key economic and human capital development sectors healthy,” a portion of the President statements reads in part.
Paragraph 15 of the President’s speech also indicated that the inter-district lockdown which continues to be an important suppression measure has presented some constraints for Sierra Leoneans.
“With the following specific conditions, I announce a lifting of the ban on inter-district travel starting Wednesday, 24th June, 2020,” the President Proclaimed.
However, the announcement of the lifting of the ban on curfew does not mean Sierra Leone is out of the woods.
The President urges all sierra Leoneans to continue to observe and practise Covid-19 preventive measures to cut of the chain of transmission of the devastating virus.
The announcement of the measures followed an instruction issued by the President to National Covid-19 Response Centre Interim Coordinator and his team to develop and announce enforceable infection, prevention and control protocols especially the mandatory and proper wearing of facemasks and other healthcare protocols.
“Only travellers who comply shall be allowed to travel on all vehicular transportation. This will be strictly enforced by the security forces,” the Presidential address also reads.
It is towards this direction that citizens have been urged to strictly comply with healthcare and public safety protocols from hand washing, use of face masks, social distancing and restrictions on public gathering.
On the civil aviation front, the President said consultations towards reopening were in progress.
“The Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority has held extensive consultations with stakeholders and considered developments in the aviation sector around Africa and in the world,” President Bio announced.
The reopening of air borders by the Sierra Leone Government has a direct linkage to the quest to be at par with other countries to save economies.
The President speech indicates that countries are opening up their air spaces and that abroad inter-sectoral body will soon finalise effective and affordable pre-arrival and departure protocols in consonance with best practices elsewhere and W HO guidelines.
“We will soon install technology at the Lungi Airport that will help us monitor, test and trace all travellers. Once all measures are in place, commercial flights will resume in the very short run,” the President assured.
The President, in his speech, has also equally considered reopening land borders within the Mano River basin a top priority.
“I have initiated engagements with colleague Heads of States of the Mano River Union countries with a view to discussing and adopting a harmonised approach and common measures on the reopening and monitoring of our common land borders,” President Bio pronounced.
Making a reference to a publication of 30th April 2020, tiled: ‘Unlocking the Lockdowns’ the author made a strong case about how perpetual lockdown of states would make it difficult for countries to ward off the looming threat of economic disaster especially for under-developed countries in Africa and Latin America.
It is hoped that security will be enhanced through lifting the ban on lockdown and the adjustment of curfew hours as people’s liberty to move about and fend for themselves is now guaranteed.
The rampant stampedes and fatal accidents on the highways would be reduced appreciably.
Women and children, the most vulnerable groups in society will no longer be highly exposed to the mercies of thieves and rapists.
Physical confrontations between the security apparatus and civilians will be trampled in the dust.
Besides, Security in contemporary societies is a composite term as it encompasses a lot of parametres.
One key parametre of security is livelihood. Conflict experts have argued that security in modern states is not only about police and military presence possessing sophisticated armament, but hinges mainly on government’s ability and competence to create the conducive environment for people to satisfy their basic needs.
Some Sierra Leoneans have also claimed that the money spent on the campaign against Covid-19 will not be replaced by meagre donations made to government by some philanthropic organisations and business entities.
Quite recently, a revered Sierra Leonean scholar lecturing at Howard University in the United States, Professor Karim Bangura has called on African states to address their few Covid-19 cases and not to hope for loans and donations.
As the long-awaited Pronouncement has been made today by the President, Sierra Leoneans are not only ecstatic but also hopeful of seeing more restrictions eased.
But, the Covid-19 preventive measures must be observed until the devastating virus is defeated.
The author of this article posits that how the Sierra Leoneans comply with Covid-19 preventive measures to block the chain of transmission will determine how quickly the government will listen to their call to open up.