The Lawra Municipal Command of the Ghana Immigration Service has bemoaned the porous nature of the border between Ghana and its neighbour to the North, Burkina Faso.
The Lawra Municipal Commander of the GIS, Assistant Superintendent of Immigration, Kingsford Agyekum-Hene said since the closure of Ghana’s borders by the President, 347 people have been arrested in the more than 54 unapproved routes in the Lawra Municipality.
The 347 persons included Ghanaians, Burkinabes, Ivorians, Nigerians, Malians, Nigeriens, and Beninois.
ASI Agyekum-Hene said due to increased surveillance, these persons were arrested during their attempts to exit or enter the country. He said this at the launch of a COVID-19 support programme at Lawra.
The Lawra Municipality shares borders with the Nandom Municipality to the north, Nadowli/Kaleo District to the south and Jirapa Municipality on the east. The Municipality shares its entire western border with Burkina Faso with the Black Volta separating the two countries.
According to the Lawra Municipal Commander of the GIS, ASI Kingsford Agyekum-Hene, the low level of water in the Black Volta makes it easy for persons trying to exit or gain entry into the country. This he says means all communities in the western part of the Lawra Municipality become entry and exit points for illegal migrants.
ASI Agyekum-Hene added that the problem is exacerbated because the Command has limited personnel which makes it difficult to man the over 54 known unapproved entry and exit points in the area. The major and motorable unapproved entry points are Bagri, Dikpe, Dapla, Geri, Brifoh Maal and Brifoh Cha.
The Commander explained that as the GIS improves surveillance in the known areas, the illegal migrants are also creating more alternative routes to outwit the GIS. He therefore appealed for an enhanced collaboration between the chiefs and people of border communities to help apprehend persons who try to use unapproved routes to exit or enter the country.
“It is a shared responsibility for all of us to be a watchdog at our various entry points. I must say that with this limited resources, Ghana Immigration Service is trying its best. It is important that our chief appreciates that the Service has a limited number of staff and therefore needs them so much at this time. We are pleading with them that anytime they see that there is a route that crosses the river, they should let us know,” he said.
UPDATES ON COVID-19 IN THE LAWRA MUNICIPALITY
The Lawra Municipal Director of Health, Dr Bernard Ziem said the Municipality had an initial 9 suspected cases of COVID 19. After testing, eight were confirmed negative while the remaining case is still pending.
Dr Ziem said the Municipality has been classified as a high risk area because of the volume of trade that happens between foreign nationals mainly from Burkina Faso and their counterparts in Ghana. He said the pro-activeness of the Public Health Management Committee led to the formation of the COVID-19 Taskforce which has been instrumental on raising the awareness of the residents while following on leads about unapproved routes and entry of illegal migrants.
Dr Ziem entreated residents to adhere strictly to the safety protocols that have been put in place to help stem the spread of the disease.
The MCE for the area, Martin Bomba-ire said as parts of initial strategies to address the Coronavirus disease, the Municipal Assembly facilitated a meeting between the Paramount Chief of Lawra and all his sub and divisional chiefs. The platform allowed the health team to share ideas with the traditional authorities on the COVID-19.
The MCE disclosed that about 58 contacts of the initial 9 suspected cases have all proved negative after tests.
SUPPORT FROM TRADTIONAL AUTHORITIES
A retired surgeon, Dr Edward Gyader called on traditional authorities to lead exemplary lives in the fight against COVID-19. “I am particularly happy that the chiefs are involved because Nelson Mandela of South Africa once said, if you want to win the heart of a man, speak his language to him. For chiefs, this is the role you are supposed to play. You can talk to the people in their own language and they will understand. When within the community a chief is wearing a [face] mask, and is instructing others to also wear masks there will be no excuse for anyone not to wear one,” he explained.
The retired surgeon rubbished claims that consumption of alcohol would remove the Coronavirus from a person’s system. Dr Gyader encouraged the use alcohol based hand-sanitisers and the wearing of appropriate face masks.
COVID-19 SUPPORT PROGRAM
The Deputy Executive Director of the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development, Daniel Banuoku commended the Lawra Municipal Assembly for setting up a COVID-19 Taskforce to ensure the prevention, management and treatment of the disease in the Municipality.
He said although CIKOD’s primary obligation is towards empowerment of small scale farmers, it is important the organization supports the government’s efforts. The Organisation is doing this by collaborating with the Traditional Authorities to help raise the awareness of the residents on the impact of COVID 19.
CIKOD will also support production of affordable face masks in the Lawra and Nandom Municipalities in the Upper West Region and parts of the Bono East Region. The package is a 20-thousand US Dollar fund repurposed from other projects with permission from their donors.
According to Mr Banuoku, part of the funds will go into the purchase of Veronica buckets, gun thermometers, hand sanitizers and N-95 nose masks particularly to health professionals in the beneficiary areas.
Story filed by Mark Smith.