July 3, 2015 By Alusine Sesay
Passengers plying the highways of Sierra Leone have accused security personnel of undermining the fight against the Ebola outbreak, alleging that the latter have resorted to extorting money from drivers and commercial motorbike riders instead of conducting temperature tests on passengers to weed out suspected Ebola cases.
Recent confirmed cases of Ebola have been people who escaped from quarantined homes thus transmitting the disease.
At Mabela, east of Freetown, a pregnant woman left a quarantined home to attend a nearby clinic without being escorted by security men deployed at the home.
According to sources, the husband of the woman in question was admitted at the Hastings treatment centre after he tested positive for Ebola, but that information was never communicated to hospital staff.
As a result, some 38 nurses and 3 medical doctors have been quarantined after they attended to the pregnant woman, who was subsequently referred to the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital (PCMH).
While speaking on Voice of America (VOA) Night Line Africa, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brima Kargbo, noted that most of the recorded cases in Port Loko and Kambia districts are people who had escaped from quarantined homes and those who participated in secret burials.
The concerned passengers, however, blamed the recent spike in new Ebola cases on the security sector, as they accused them of absolute neglect of their duty for allowing people in quarantined homes to escape.
A passenger who travelled from Freetown to Kailahun, Mohamed Kanneh, told Concord Times that among all the checkpoints along the highway, only Mile 38 observes strict security measures and that passengers are not allowed to pass through after 6pm.
He said a cosy relationship exists between commercial drivers and security personnel, and are compromised after receiving some token from drivers.
Between Kenema to Daru, a route predominantly plied by commercial motorbike riders, he said the police and military deployed at checkpoints collect five thousand Leones (Le5,000) from riders as ‘booking fees’ each day to evade security checks.
It could be recalled that some senior officers of the police and military were sacked after they were caught extorting money from passengers at the Bandama checkpoint, very close to Kenema, last year, at a time the town was one of two epicentres of the virus.