By Alusine Sesay & Patrick J. Kamara
Proprietor of one of the leading sea transport companies in the country, Sea Coach Express, has told Concord Times in an exclusive interview that the present Ebola crisis has led to the flight of a number of expatriates as well as Sierra Leoneans from the country than those coming in.
Olusegun Jaji said though the present crisis has not completely hampered his sea transportation business, but it has cut down considerably the number of foreign workers coming into the country, adding that his company has lost about 60% of its regular customers.
Mr. Jaji maintained that since the disease is alien to the country, many expatriates as well as Sierra Leoneans are scared of it and hence have fled the country.
“We are very hopeful that the situation can be handled in the earliest and effective manner. As of now the percentage of outgoing passengers is a bit higher than those coming into the country,” he said. “Our corporate social responsibility in the form of annual eye clinical services would be initially cancelled, and the said funds will be diverted to helping the government contain the Ebola outbreak.”
He however expressed concern over airlines cancelling their operations in the country, noting that should such continue, the entire country would be shutdown from the outside world.
“We want to do a cash donation towards the Ebola crisis but materials are more needed at this time than cash,” pointed out Mr. Jaji. “But this doesn’t mean we will cancel our annual clinical services to the nation. We would hang on for a while due to the ban on public gathering.”
A senior management staff of Sea Coach Express, Jerry Johnson, said they are doing everything in their power to ensure their employees receive the needed education about the disease, and promised they will not lay off any staff.
Meanwhile, the General Manager of Family Kingdom Resort on Lumley Beach Road, Aberdeen, S.A. Jaward, has expressed frustration that they have lost their regular clients.
“Look at the bundle of keys; all our customers who had initially made bookings have cancelled their trips to Sierra Leone. This is very frustrating as I have 93 staff to pay,” he lamented.
Jaward further told Concord Times that he is spending three million Leones (Le3m) daily to keep the generator running amidst the little income the entity is making at the moment.
“If this crisis goes beyond two months we will have no option but to lay off some of our staff,” he said.