undertook a trip around the Kingtom promontory on Saturday, December 6,
to take a look at facilities that are of interest in the battle against
Ebola. First stop was the Prince of Wales School, where President
Ernest Koroma had that very day commissioned a new Ebola center on
the school's expansive playing field. Many have found the decision to
site an Ebola center on school premises curious. That the nation's top
secondary school could at this advanced stage of the fight be corralled
into such service speaks volumes about the progress against Ebola and
the likelihood of an early return to normalcy. When we arrived at the
field we found it transformed. Machines and workmen were busy applying
finishing touches to a large, solid albeit tented, facility. MSF
expatriates appeared to be supervising the work (the facility
managed by MSF) and a small crowd was gathered at the gate, apparently
waiting for results of work applications. With the economy in decline
and job openings few and far between, government promises of risk
allowances to workers at Ebola facilities appear tempting enough to
lure a good number of locals to brave the terrors of Ebola.
From the Prince of Wales we continued round the Kingtom outcrop to the
Police hospital and found by contrast a scene of complete normalcy.
There had been concern that densely populated barracks, police and
military, with personnel whose work routinely involves distant
postings, could be breeding grounds for Ebola. On this occasion we saw
no evidence of it. The hospital was operating at a leisurely pace, with
not an emergency or PPE in sight. All buildings appeared to be in use
and freely accessible to the public.
Finally around the newly resurfaced Kingtom circle, past the War Graves
and the secluded reservations bequeathed by the colonial era, to the
This was designated an Ebola
burial place many weeks ago and, much to the discomfort of Kingtom residents, all
suspected or confirmed Ebola corpses in the West of the city are taken
there. Perhaps proximity was part of the rationale for choosing nearby Prince
of Wales School as an Ebola center. We find rows and rows of freshly-dug
earthen heaps, marked only by a slim, numbered stick. Workers dot the
compound, enlarging the space for burials and preparing new graves.
Outside, quiet groups of mourners
await the blaring sirens of the next, hasty Ebola disposal.