October 1, 2022

Another closure of borders between Guinea and Sierra Leone cannot be ruled out owing to the threats of Ebola. Reports indicate that seven Guineans have succumbed to the virus while others wrestle with it.

More cases are expected in coming days if authorities there do not take tough measures to stem the tide. The Ebola virus broke out in Guinea in February this year at a time Guinea sealed off its borders against Sierra Leone and other countries in West Africa.

The medical charity, Medicins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) is helping Guinean authorities to roll back the virus.

MSF was also very active between 2014 and 2015 during the first outbreak that badly affected the MRU (Mano River Union) Basin.

Although reports, few years back, had indicated that Guinea was on the threshold of getting a vaccine, the country seems still helpless in the face of a second wave of Ebola Virus.

Guinea has just reopened her borders to Sierra Leone two months ago. The borders between the two countries were sealed off owing to a political Row between the two countries. At the height of presidential elections Guinea, early this year, Guinean authorities accused Sierra Leone’s Vice President of meddling with the elections.

The row compelled Guinea to unilaterally close her borders against Sierra Leone.

The closure of Guinean borders in that short period created hardship in Sierra Leone as prices of basic commodities sky-rocketed.

The situation brought about pressure on the government. Trade and commerce flourishes between the two countries during normalcy. Sierra Leone sells off most of its local produce to Guinea.

In return, Sierra Leonean business men and women purchase a good chunk of its products for local sale and consumption. The ties of commerce were cut short and off following the closure of Guinean borders.  An Engagement of Guinean Government by the Sierra Leone authorities led to their reopening.

However, the prevalence of Ebola virus in Guinea may lead to another closure of borders   on the Sierra Leone Side.

Professor Peter Piot’s prediction that Ebola does not strike a nation once has come to pass. The current Guinean Situation has confirmed the Piot’s Prediction.

The Belgian Scientist claimed to have accidentally discovered the Ebola virus in 1976 during a medical research along the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The medic was quite assertive that the Ebola Virus had the potential to strike a nation multiple times. He made a strong case why authorities must invest in their health systems to ward off the virus in an event it resurfaces.

As the Corona Virus Continues to threaten Guinea, authorities in Sierra Leone may close its borders after thorough geo-political consideration.

Sierra Leone shut down her borders after the outbreak of Corona Virus. The country also embarked on further measures after the country recorded its index case in March the previous year.

Since the border between Sierra Leone and Guinea were reopened in March, this year, cordiality and cooperation returned to the two countries.

Glittering ray of hope of consolidating the bilateral relationship run high especially after Corona Virus is showing signs of receding.

Despite the cordiality of relationship, the outbreak of Ebola may not stop Sierra Leone from shutting down its borders.

It was in May 2014 that Sierra Leone contracted the Ebola Virus from Guinea, and May is also fastly approaching. It was reported that a Sierra Leone health worker contracted the virus in Guinea and brought it into Sierra Leone.

The entry of Ebola Virus in the country hit hard the country’s economy. The Ebola Virus devastated the economies of MRU countries especially Sierra Leone which appears to be the hardest-hit.

The virus had the worst death toll in the country with far reaching socio-economic consequences. Reports noted that the devastation of Ebola Virus was unprecedented in terms of its duration, number of infections, fatality, and geographical spread as well social and humanitarian damage accompanied by severe economic consequences.

It was also reported that in 2015, Sierra Leone recorded over 13, 000 cases of Ebola Virus claiming the lives of thousands of Sierra Leoneans.

No gainsaying that the Ebola Virus sharply reduced impressive gains made in economic growth over the years.

Sierra Leone’s economy was badly damaged in the face of an Ebola outbreak. An economy which was described the fastest with a projection over 20% growth rate was reduced to a mere 3% after Ebola struck.

The former Director of Economic Statistics, at Statistics Sierra Leone, Abu Bakarr Turay predicted that the country’s economy at that time could be reduced to either 1 or 0% if the Ebola Virus was not successfully tackled.

Mr Turay made this statement at the height of Ebola in a press briefing held at the headquaters of SLANGO (Sierra Leone Association of Non-Governmental Organisations). He opined that one could not expect money in a society where there is no freedom adding that the whole business of Sierra Leoneans at that time was about seeing tomorrow.

However, a government official who spoke to this press said it would be difficult for Sierra Leone to shut down her borders against Guinea.

He confirms that Sierra Leone, to a large extent, depends on Guinea for her products. He said Sierra Leone had to strike a balance between shutting down her borders to forestall an Ebola outbreak or leave them open in the name of trade and commerce. If borders are left open, he said, government took a risk of repeating a fatal mistake Sierra Leone made in 2014.

In that year, he said, Government failed to immediately close the country’s borders following the outbreak of Ebola in Guinea. The failure to close borders was linked to geo-politics considering the ties between the two countries.

Quoting the former Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Abu Bakarr Fofanah, the official said the then minister admitted that their negligence created fertile grounds for Ebola to flourish.

On the other hand, it has also been argued that the closure of borders by Sierra Leone Government would not make Sierra Leone safe from the virus. Illegal crossings and porous borders may whittle down government effort.

A report recently compiled by the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Lahai Lawrence Leema showed that Sierra Leone still struggles with over 100 illegal crossings.  The report goes to confirm that even if Sierra Leone shuts down her borders to forestall an Ebola outbreak, the prevention move would be less effective owing to border porosity. Other arguments also indicate that Sierra Leone stands the risk of weakening her relationship with Guinea should the borders be shut down.

Others say the borders should be shut down since Ebola effects far outweigh the impact of border closure.