By Donstance Koroma
The three days lockdown, declared by the New Direction Administration, is expected to commence on Sunday, 5thApril, 2020. It has sent shock waves down the spines of indigenes of Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom and its environs in the Port Loko District, Northern Province.
The recent announcement of positive coronavirus cases, coupled with the three days lockdown, have not only been greeted with mixed feelings but have also stimulated unnecessary increase in prices of basic food items in that part of the country.
Random interviews, conducted within the International Airport and its environs, indicate that many Sierra Leoneans seem unhappy over the positive cases of the pandemic in the country.
According to the Finance Officer, Rescue Ship Foundation SL, Alfred B. Mills, the natives of the chiefdom seem worried over the negative consequences that go with the spread of the virus, especially when the country continues to battle with weak health system and limited medical personnel.
He also spoke about acute hardship in the chiefdom due to the ban on international flights from entering the country.
Mills further pointed out that the Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom is deprived of government institutions, companies and other establishments that have the potential to provide employment opportunities for the youthful population in the said chiefdom.
The Finance Officer noted that most of the youths depend largely on the only international Airport for their daily survival. He also intimated this medium that the other alternative sources of livelihood in that chiefdom are artisanal fishing, subsistent farming and petty trading, adding that prices of essential commodities have also skyrocketed following the shutdown of borders with neighbouring countries, especially Guinea.
The Rescue Ship Foundation is the lead organization in the country that is championing access and retention for physically challenged pupils in schools, taking advantage of the Free Quality Education in the country.
An international businessman, Ibrahim T. Tarawallie, at Airport Junction, Lungi, said the three-day lockdown was announced at a very short notice, which, he said, has left the poor and needy in a very difficult situation to prepare for the said lockdown.
He continued that many were pleased when the President repeatedly assured the nation that the reported index case in the country was not a lockdown. “Just after a day of the President’s announcement, he continued, “the nation was taken by surprise when the announcement of the lockdown was made.”
“Personally,” he noted, “I am not against the lockdown because it is geared toward mitigating the possibility of the virus from spreading, but rather the very short notices taking into consideration the economic realities across the country.
Salamatu Mansaray, a vegetable trader, Titafor Market, said politicians should always be aware that the financial standing of every Sierra Leonean varies, stating that such reality must be taken into consideration when a national decision of such a nature is about to be taken.
“I am a mother of three children and the nature of my business makes it impossible for me to make savings,” Salamatu lamented.
She continued that homes are bound to starve for days because of the very short notice and therefore called on the government to do anything humanly possible to prevent the virus from killing poor and innocent people, especially in hard-to-reach communities.
Taxi driver, Kallie Bangura, plying from Lungi to Port Loko town, told this medium that he is at the mercy of the All Mighty Allah because he cannot tell which passenger is carrying the virus, adding that he is strictly going by the preventive measures recommended by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.
Bangura was also curious to know the kind of arrangements put in place by the government for the deprived and unemployed citizens that do not have any source of livelihood.
Joseph Musa, a hotel worker at the Benkeh community, Lungi, appreciated the government for such proactive move. He continued that the three-day lockdown will help reduce the degree of contacts and will also allow frontline health workers to do perfect contact tracing.
Madam Musu Kandeh Foday, a housewife in Kitoki community, Lungi, disclosed that prices of foodstuffs are on the increase due to the closure of the country’s border with Guinea. She said the memory of the Ebola still remains fresh in the minds of many and called on God to prevent a repeat of such a situation.
Prayers and supplications are on the lips of most Sierra Leoneans in that part of the country. Many who lost their loved ones, as a result of the Ebola, are calling on the ultimate judge of morality and for intervention, given that they are poor and vulnerable.
By Donstance Koroma