Several Liberian Borders with Sierra Leone is said to be at risk as huge insecurity looms for residents of both countries in the absence of electricity and adequate manpower on the borderlines.
Currently, BO-Waterside, which is Liberia’s main border with Sierra Leone, lacks electricity and other security tools to help keep the border safe from any security threats that may arise. Bo-Waterside is in Tewor District, Grand Cape Mount County.
Residents, in a plead recently, when ECOWAS parliament paid a one-day sensitization and facts finding visit to Bo-Waterside, indicated that citizens of both countries live in fear especially on the borderlines owing the lack of security and adequate manpower for fight border threats.
According to the Town Chief of BO-Waterside, Massaley Cole, electricity is security and as such, there is a need for ECOWAS and the both governments’ help to ensure the borders are actually electrified.
Mr. Cole stated that both Jenemah and Bo-Water of Sierra Leone and Liberia are making more impact in terms of revenue generation to improve their countries, noting that there is a need that both governments focus on improving the well-being of people in these communities or towns.
“We are living in total darkness at the border here and people expect it to the Main the border so we are asking that ECOWAS and the government to provide us electricity to enable free movement”, Mr. Cole noted.
Also speaking at the ECOWAS engagement, Tewor District Commissioner Haji Jaleiba emphasized the need to improve security presence at the borders which he believes will strengthen security responses to citizens both in the county and on the borderlines with Sierra Leone.
Mr. Jaleiba pointed out that secret killings are on the increase in the district due to lack of adequate manpower in the county to combat crimes.
“In the entire county only 6 uniform police officers are here within Tewor District, 2 in Robertsports, 1 Kporka and 1 in Garwula district and the crime rate is getting high on us”, he said.
Commissioner Jaleiba disclosed that of the 53 illegal crossing points in Grand Cape Mount County only two of those points have security personnel while the rest remains vulnerable to security threats.
“Our hearts beat for those illegal points that don’t have security and those ones that have security are limited with logistical problems to patrol the borderlines let ECOWAS come in and help”, he averred.
The ECOWAS cross-border facts finding meeting brought together residents of both Sierra Leone and Liberia to ascertain cross-border hurdles and ways to help mitigate free movement amongst ECOWAS member countries.
Representatives from Sierra Leone’s town Jenemah included the town chief, Women wing chair, youth representatives as well as other clergymen of both towns along the border.
Recommendations preferred by leaders of both countries included the enhancement of free movement of both members’ countries residents in order to promote peaceful coexistence and strengthen ECOWAS solidarity.
Speaking further, Sierra Leone Jenemah town Women Wing Chair outlined the challenges faced by business women in trade within both borders.
Madam Elizabeth Sheriff stated that there is a need for ECOWAS intervention to ensure free movement and acceptance of both countries currency in trade exchanges to boost growth and development.
“Often times people from the Liberian side refuse our (Sierra Leone) and at times devalue our money with low exchange rates in favor of goods and it is causing serious problems for us who do businesses along the borders”.
Madam Sheriff recommended that ECOWAS countries be unified with a single currency system and an Identification Cards for all its members’ countries in order to ensure free access and improve trade and commerce while promoting peace. “
Responding, ECOWAS Secretary-General, Don Azumah of Ghana, thanked both countries residents for speaking out on issues affected cross borders insecurities while pledging ECOWAS fullest commitment to ensuring it meets most of the residents’ recommendations.
Mr. Azumah reechoed that the dreams and visions of ECOWAS forefathers must be upheld in ensuring free movement for its members noting that security corporation is key in achieving said dreams.
He urged that citizens must be law-abiding while accessing other countries borders and exercising the right to free movement.
“We beg the security people not to make movement difficult for our people because when it is done peacefully then we are all happy while our children will move freely to school on both sides and we can live a happy and peaceful life”, Mr. Azumah stated.
“Our goal is to continue this Delocalized sensitization of the forefathers’ dreams which will remain in the minds of the people of both countries in ensuring free movement at all times and the respect for the rule of law”, Mr. Azumah noted.
Commenting further, Rep. Edwin Snowe, a member of ECOWAS parliament mentioned that ECOWAS is currently working on a cross-border electricity project which will cater to the urgent needs of security threats at the borders.
Rep. Snowe pointed out that security issues remain of essence to ECOWAS due to the impact it has on their member countries including its citizens,
“Without electricity things cannot work so ECOWAS will soon get current running along this border in which Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Ivory Coast will benefit and our people can live happily without being insecure.”
The ECOWAS sensitization awareness and fact-finding meeting were held on the Bo-Waterside and Jenemah Bridge which was previously used during both Sierra Leone and Liberian civil war as transit points for arms and ammunition to kill innocent souls of both countries.
After fifteen years of civil unrests, both countries have now found peace and ways to coexist peacefully in the interest of preserving peace and fostering unity among themselves.
ECOWAS parliament headed by its Speaker Mustapha Cisse-Lo concluded its two days facts finding mission to Liberia-Sierra Leone and Liberia-Guinea borders on Saturday, September 29, 2018, in an effort to harness the importance for the regional organization to fully implement the ECOWAS protocol relating to free movement in member states and periodically monitor the progress. The mission provided each member state the full participation of governments and relevant national structures including the public to ensure its success