Fighting Ebola in Liberia, a country now recording increase in the number of cases of the deadly virus is having a toll on commercial activities in the Capital Monrovia with normal business hours reduced and in some commercial areas, businesses are perpetually shut down due to a curfew imposed by the Government of Liberia ranging from 9:PM to 6:AM.
It’s 9:30AM and stores are still closed in the commercial hub of the Vai Town business district on the Bushrod Island, an area known for having major importers of commodities such as rice, flour, milk and nearly all commodities as people travel from other parts of Monrovia and the entire country to buy wholesale from importers in Vai Town.
In this busy business district, stores normally open at 8 am and close at 6 pm or even operate till night hours as demands for goods increase, especially during festive seasons, but since the introduction of the curfew, store attendants who live far away on the outskirts of the city, usually seen rushing as early as 5:00AM enabling them to beat the early morning traffic and fight for vehicles to get to work at 7:30AM can no longer venture into the streets until at least 6:10AM.
At 4:30PM all stores in the Vai Town area are closing down and people coming in are told it is time to go home, a significant reduction in business hours, which is intended to enable store attendants make their way home to beat the curfew. The new commercial schedule as a consequence of the curfew means businesses now run about five to six hours, a huge reduction from the normal 10 to 11 hours or even more business time.
Several other stores in the commercial area are perpetually closed down, which some say is due to fear from store owners that they do not want to interact with people to avoid contracting the Ebola various and therefore prefer to stay out of business until the situation is brought under control. In several communities outside Monrovia, huge traffic congestion characterized by an acute shortage of commercial vehicles means one has to take two hours or more to get to work.
As further measures to fight the Ebola virus, taxis are now ordered to carry only three passengers in the back, which until now used to be four and in some instances people seen sitting on the others lap to help due to lack of vehicles. Commercial buses, too, have reduced the number of passengers transported at a time, thereby causing more transport constraints.
Though the World Health organization has maintained that imposition of curfew and quarantining communities are not some of the effective ways to fight the Ebola virus, the Government of Liberia is continuing the measure, preventing the movement of people which is also having a tool for commercial activities. The major market, Waterside is shut down due to the quarantining of West Point as hawkers and other marketers who engage in the retail business can no longer buy from wholesalers.