Representatives Dissatisfied Over Ebola Task Force Performance
By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy
The toll the Ebola virus has taken in the country seems to be of concern to members in the House of Representatives as they begin to have diverse debates on how to handle the issue not only in their constituents but in the entire country.
Even though at the 50-day sitting of the third session of the 53rd Legislature yesterday, representatives took a majority vote to empower the committee on health so that it monitors the funds being provided the National Task Force to fight Ebola while some lawmakers expressed that the situation needs to be addressed holistically.
Some lawmakers even expressed dissatisfaction over how the Task Force is conducting itself especially as the National Legislature has concurred to set aside some $20 million in the National Budget to assist in the fight against the virus.
According to them, the fund earmarked will cause a serious injury to the budget and that would mean cut in salaries, allowances and other special benefits therefore the Task Force should be monitored not by itself but by others whose donations and assistance it relies on to perfect its duty.
Among lawmakers whose points were made clear was that of Monstserrado County Representative George Solo who explained how the newest 4455 hotline just announced yesterday by the Task Force with text messages forwarded to individual cellphones is still making no impact.
Rep. Solo informed the House of Representatives’ plenary how four dead bodies were lying in his slum constituency of West Point with no member of the Task Force responding to any of the calls and interventions made by him or his community members up until the time of the session yesterday.
He said even with the single hotline, no one responds and if the funds provided are to be used by the Task Force headed by the Chief Executive to respond to incidences rapidly; it should begin doing its job because the so disgruntled residents would begin taking defiant actions.
“For me, if nothing is done to address the situation in my district which is the largest slum community in Montserrado County, I will take those bodies and have them laid before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs because we cannot have a hotline that nobody pays attention to,” Rep. Solo told his colleagues.
At the same time, Lofa County Representative, Mariam Fofana, urged her fellow lawmakers to be serious about the spread of the virus. She told them that Ebola needs not come to their door steps before they join in the fight.
Rep. Fofana said in her district alone over 60 persons have died already and at least 300 are suspected and using Lofa and Montserrado as the epic Counties and that lawmakers need to leave their comforts and begin to sensitize their electorates.
On the issue of establishing a small group to monitor the funds provided, Rep Fofana said these are not times for the establishment of ad-hoc committees instead all must get involved if the Ebola virus is to be eradicated because it is not even time to speak about or apply the equal distribution theory.
She said as for Lofa, it needs no awareness about the Ebola virus because the evidence is clear and speaks for itself but in counties that have not tasted the virus or are not hardly hit; should be the major focus and that should be the concern of the entire Legislature.
She further called on the residents in areas that are experiencing the Ebola virus to continue encouraging their communities to seek medical attention and give dignity to their dead while in those counties that have not experienced the virus should take the preventive measures seriously.
Meanwhile, the House has accepted a majority vote to invite the NEC to its tomorrow session to explain the reasons for rescheduling the special senatorial elections because even as it suggests the postponement of the election, it is already in violation of its own guidelines regarding campaigning therefore the plenary needs explanation to the way forward before granting President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s request to hold a consultation with that body on the matter but the Liberian Senate has discussed and decided to send similar communication to its committee on elections to advise the plenary on how to proceed.