February 11, 2015 By Ralph Ese’Donnu Sawyerr
The Gambian Government over the weekend surprisingly announced it has lifted the travel ban (air, land and sea) on countries affected by the deadly Ebola virus.
The announcement, which was referred to as positive by the Sierra Leonean community in the Gambia, was read over state owned Gambia Radio and Television Station.
According to Gambian authorities, marked improvement had been observed in efforts to eradicate the virus in the three worst hit countries – Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
The Gambia has not recorded any case of Ebola, but the presence of the virus in the sub-region adversely affected the tourism industry and regional trade.
The Gambian government took nationwide preventive measures, including the banning of flights from affected countries, in order to contain the spread of the virus.
Low cost airline, Gambia Bird, which flies in West Africa and beyond, had to fold up its operations as a result of travel ban imposed by Gambian and United Kingdom authorities. Consequently, hundreds of staff in the affected countries, England and in Gambia, their Head Office, were laid off.
Serra Leone’s Ambassador to The Gambia, H.E. Soulayman Daramy, had in several meetings with The Gambian authorities shared dates and stringent measures the Government of President Ernest Bai Koroma is taking to end the epidemic.
For now, the joy of lifting of the ban resonates with citizens of the three worst hit countries, who missed seeing family members and loved ones back home (including the author).