A disaster that could’ve been avoided

The over 45 persons, who lost their lives as a result of mudslide at the Kartee Gold Mines in Gbanipea, Tappita District, Lower Nimba County could have been avoided, if government had exercised proper leadership.

The situation involving hundreds of illicit miners in Gbanipea, Nimba and elsewhere across Liberia is an age-old problem. In Sinoe, Grand Kru and other parts of the southeast similar situation has been going on, with local authorities alarming, seeking intervention from national government, but their pleas usually go unheeded.

The disaster in Nimba did not occur suddenly, as reports say 12 miners had earlier faced similar fate prior to the mudslide of February 9th that swept about 45 others.

Although President George Manneh Weah declared a Day of National Mourning in the aftermath of the tragedy, but we believe this could have been totally avoided if the authorities had moved in swiftly.

We are specifically disgusted about the time it took government to officially respond to the situation, nearly a week after the miners were trapped. This was nothing but sheer insensitivity!

What’s the use of sending in the military and national disaster team by mid last week, nearly five days after the incident? Local authorities on the ground had called for intervention, but it seemed like nobody listened. They were left with no recourse but to apply supreme traditional power by sending in country devils to deter further intrusion.

The government has finally declared the affected area a “National Disaster Zone” and ordered national security apparatuses to provide security and prevent illicit mining, something that should have been done, initially.

A release from the Executive Mansion says the Minister of Internal Affairs, Varney Sirleaf, has been mandated by the President to work with the National Disaster Management Agency to conduct intensive search for possible survivors, but this is a belated move, as there may be no survivors by now.

When will African leaders learn to prioritize the lives of their fellow citizens? They are busy consolidating power and pillaging the national wealth while the masses languish in misery and poverty and die.

The government is now appealing for assistance from international organizations and development partners, mainly the United Nation, ECOWAS, European Union, United States, China and other friendly nations to bring needed relief to individuals and families affected by the disaster.

President Weah has reportedly described the mudslide as “totally a depressing for our country at a time my Government is endeavoring to create an enabling environment for our people to improve their lives”. But the government went to sleep when local leaders sounded early calls for intervention.

It’s but time that government exercises responsible leadership by being pro-active on issues that affect our citizens rather than play lip-service with people’s lives.

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