AUGUST 28, 2014 By Mohamed Massaquoi
Outreach Coordinator in the Office of the Government Spokesman has confirmed to Concord Times that the Minister of Transport and Aviation has been ordered by President Ernest Bai Koroma “to arrest any utility vehicle” and turned it over to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to be used to respond to emergency cases in the fight to combat the spread of the Ebola virus that continues to claim the lives of Sierra Leoneans.
The decision, according to Abdulai Bayraytay, was as a result of the apparent reluctance of ministries, departments and agencies in offering their vehicles to facilitate the movement of health workers in swiftly responding to emergency Ebola cases.
Mr. Bayraytay told Concord Times that Transport and Aviation Minister, Leonard Balogun Koroma, has been invited by the Ministry of Information and Communications to participate in today’s press briefing by the ministry to explain to the general public how the said presidential order is being complied with, noting that it is the responsibility of all Sierra Leoneans to support the Ebola fight.
“We have invited the Minister of Transport to enlighten the public on this development. We must all prepare to fight Ebola collectively; government and its partners have put in a lot of resources but we need more to contain the virus,” he said.
Concord Times has learnt that during one of the Presidential Task Force on Ebola meetings at State House, President Koroma had appealed to ministries, departments and agencies to support the fight against Ebola by offering ‘surplus vehicles’ to the Health Ministry to facilitate the movement of health workers and logistics to the epicenters. But it seems the president’s appeal has fallen on deaf ears thus resulting to him ordering the Transport Minister ‘to arrest’ any utility vehicle that could help in the fight against the deadly disease.
Reports have it that health workers are finding it difficult to move from one point to the other, especially in the provinces where District Health Management Teams do not have appropriate logistics to implement some of the strategies by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.
A medical practitioner from Port Loko District complained to Concord Times that they do not have enough ambulances to take Ebola samples to the centre in Kenema for testing.
“We have to redouble our efforts in this fight. Government must ensure that the resources are available so that we can carry out our responsibility swiftly. I am happy that the president has ordered the arrest of utility vehicles,” he said.