The National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL) said it is completely ‘devastated, astounded and dispirited’ over three major fire disasters occurring almost simultaneously in Monrovia, Montserrado County and Kakata, Margibi County respectively.
In recent weeks, the two cities were engulfed by series of disasters that left several injured and destroyed several properties including the only referral hospital- CH Rennie in Kakata, Margibi County.
In Monrovia, Liberia’s only steel factory owned by Sethi Brothers, Inc. was gutted by fire that left several workers badly burned. Prior to the incident, a fuel tanker with petroleum products burst into flames on Saturday in the crowded commercial hub of Water Street in Monrovia, leaving several people injured and destroying homes and businesses.
In a statement issued over the weekend, the NCSCL said, although the bursting of the fuel tanker into flames in Monrovia is said not to have resulted into loss of lives, these disasters took a deep and devastating toll on properties and heavily destroyed business houses, displaced private residents and horrified adjacent and nearby communities and residents alike.
Similarly, the NCSCL said that the burning down of the annex of the C.H. Rennie Hospital must have thrown hospital authorities and their patients into intense state of hysteria, sharp degrees of astonishment and negative effect to full operation of the Hospital.
Excerpt of the statement: “Under today’s economy where impoverishment is briskly eating up the fabrics of society, the best to apply urgent leadership by the National Disaster Management Team and partners, including the Liberian Red Cross Society and the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) to join hands and reach out to the victims and survivors in the most sufficient and expeditious manner. Victims and survivors of these disasters, especially sick patients who were hospitalized at C.H. Rennie need urgent medical psychosocial attention, second, families especially children, elders and women who homes were extremely devastated, need our outmost care, support and attention.”
The statement, issued by the National Chairperson of the CSO Council, Loretta Alethea Pope-Kai continued: “Their state of trauma and devastation should not be prolonged for any reasons whatsoever! It is in times like these when the state should exemplify love for its people as a duty bearer beyond all measures! We call and provoke the humanity of all Liberians and the private sector to timely provide any form of interventions: cloths, food, beddings, building material and medication. Please extend yours hands of love and compassion.”
The Council said, though, disaster is an unforeseen and unfortunate situation which occurrence can hardly be predicted, the Government of Liberia should critically review circumstances leading to the causes of the three fire incidents, (especially the one in the LPRC Community along the Somalia Drive) and determine some quick, thoughtful and concrete remedial actions. There is indeed no time for procrastination!
The Council warned if due care is not taken, Liberia might have a fire incident that might be more devastating and dangerously far-reaching and with consequences that will be unimaginably dire and disproportional; adding that, “Because we do not contain the capacity as a country and people to handle such a high magnitude of devastation and disillusionment, the best we can do is to erect the necessary checkpoints, put up the right safeguards and carry out the necessary community awareness for stronger community surveillance against any fire outbreak henceforth.”
It then recommended that Liberia National Fire Service (LNFS) capacity is enhanced, timely recruitment and training of additional firefighters, structural decentralization of LNFS depots, and provision of incentives (Insurance, Stipend and better wages).
The Council also recommend that the Government of Liberia through LNFS and other public institutions to mandate and stage periodic assessment, aimed at ensuring businesses and service-deliverable institutions purchase and refill their fire-extinguisher to avoid emerging fire turn into devastation of lives and properties.
“Let us note with great deal of caution that our failure to act now and our failure to take all the best corrective measures means we are gearing up for the biggest and probably, the most devastating and dangerous fire disaster ever in the history of our existence,” it warned.