They’re from the same ethnic group. They speak the same language. And they live on both sides of the Liberia-Guinea divide in the area around Liberia’s eastern border city of Ganta, in Nimba County. The families straddle the border, which is not fenced.
“Right over there is the border,” says businessman Prince Haward, directing our attention to some rubber farms not too far away. “Those are the rubber farms you find in Guinea.”
Many families have relatives who live right across St. John’s River, which separates the two countries, he says. They used to cross back and forth at the busy border post.
Then Ebola came, arriving in Liberia back in March when someone from Guinea entered the country. To curb the further spread of the virus, Liberian officials shut the border in July.
Haward, whose family has lived in the area for nearly a century, calls the government wise for closing the border to help protect Liberia — and Ganta. “Life comes first,” he says, “before economic activities.”
There has definitely been an economic impact. When the border post closed, says Haward, many people lost their jobs.
There’s no activity whatsoever: no cars, no trucks, no commerce. And that means no government revenue and no income.
People are twiddling their fingers. Grasses are growing superhigh. There are absolutely no vehicles, no noise, nobody coming and going — nothing.