Koroma tells Waterloo authorities
NOVEMBER 6, 2014 By Oswald Hanciles
In a tone tinged with paradoxes of reprimand and cajole, lambast and challenge, President Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday in addressing traditional leaders, local councillors, religious leaders, traditional healers, and a cross section of the community in Waterloo, Western Area Rural District, accused them of “gross hypocrisy” in their attitudes and stance to the Ebola war: a reason why the Ebola epidemic in that district has soared in two months to be the highest in the entire country.
“Let this hypocrisy end among you people. You have held over six such public meetings, yet, the Ebola infection, and Ebola death figures keep on rising in Waterloo: Why? It is because leaders like you would make public commitments, and you either partake in violating the Ebola laws once you leave these public meetings; or, you watch while others wash dead bodies, keep Ebola suspected sick people in their homes, and you do nothing about it. You must stop that,” the President said.
“We must be honest to ourselves!! We must end the tradition to rush to homes that are bereaved. We have been informed by our experts that about 70% of infection with the Ebola virus have come from people who wash corpses, and touch the dead and those who have gone to funeral places. We must change,” the President appealed to the people of Waterloo.
Chairman of the Waterloo District Ebola Task Force, Hon. Claude Kamanda, in his statement said that the Ebola outbreak had been worst in Waterloo because okada riders would carry corpses at night; take onboard their commercial bikes passengers who were obviously sick; that boat owners were transporting clearly sick people at night from Moyamba and Port Loko and landing at ports at night in Waterloo; that people are still stubbornly washing corpses of deceased, some of them even do this at night.
President Koroma said that he was in the district to underline the authority that is in the by-laws, the new “military” mode of the Ebola war must now mean that there would be “no debate…no argument”; but, only “command and control”.
The President said that “Sierra Leone is not like Europe. We all know each other. We all live in communities where we know what our neighbours are even cooking in their kitchens; so, we know when people are sick in their homes, and we can easily suspect when someone has Ebola and is out of sight for a few days. We must report this immediately to relevant authorities”.
He stressed that he would hold the leaders of the district to their word that in 21 days there would be no case of Ebola in the district.
The President said everybody, especially the leaders, should be “like policemen” against those who are violating the laws not to wash corpses, or, to keep suspected Ebola cases in their homes. “I give the authority to you people on the ground,” the President intoned.
CEO of the National Ebola Response Committee (NERC), Major Palo Conteh (retired) was also ordered to make sure that members of contact tracers, surveillance teams, etc. are sourced locally, and not imported from other districts. There was loud applause at that.