Members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Defence and Interior have paid a day’s working visit to the Aflao border in the Ketu-south Municipality of the Volta region to assess the security situation and the necessary preparations put in place to prevent the deadly Ebola virus from entering the country.
The border is the major transit point to Ghana’s eastern neighbours of Togo, Benin and Nigeria, which has reported cases of the disease that has plagued three other West African countries including Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Briefing the Committee members on the preparations to combat the deadly virus, the Volta Regional Director of Health Services, Dr. Joseph Teye Nuertey said since news on the outbreak of the disease broke in April, the Health authorities and other stakeholders has embark on consistent public education programmes on the disease as well as training of frontline health officials.
He disclosed that 20 Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) which the region received, were distributed among the Port Health Department at the border and two hospitals out of six health facilities designated to deal with the disease. The two are the Aflao Government hospital and the Regional hospital in Ho, excluding the Jasikan, Hohoe, Sogakofe, Nkwanta hospitals because of the inadequacy of the PPEs.
He also noted due to the inadequacy of the non contact thermometers, only Port Health officers at the main border, uses the infrared gadget to screen travellers, leaving officers at the pedestrian crossing at beat nine to dispense hand sanitizers to persons using that route to rub their hands.
Committee chairman and MP for Ablekuma South, Mr. Fritz Baffour noted that the committee’s tour of other major borders in the Western, Upper East and West regions revealed similar conditions, stating that “though we are totally aware of the Ebola menace and the possibility of it landing on our shores we’ve not done enough to protect our frontiers.”
He however assured that pressure will be mounted on the relevant authorities to speed up the release of logistics to help those in the frontline put adequate preparations on the ground to safeguard the country from the deadly Ebola virus.
Border Security Challenges
Sector commanders of the security agencies at the border, who took committee members round the agencies offices and beat wire, complained of inadequate personnel, infrastructural facilities, and lack of operational logistics including transport as challenges hindering their smooth operations.
They also called for the fencing and construction of the road along the border stretch, as done by the Togolese to minimize the numerous unapproved routes and ensure effective patrol.
The Volta Regional Minister, Helen Ntoso who accompanied the committee disclosed that, plans are in place to construct a road along the border but however noted that, the road will affect some farms along the border so negotiations are on- going on to enable the farmers harvest their produce before the project takes off.
Committee members also expressed worry about the porous nature of the border and called for a wholelistic security assessment of the country’s borders to enhance safety and security of Ghanaians.