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Boredom On The Border Between Liberia And Guinea

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Boredom On The Border Between Liberia And Guinea

Daily Life

Boredom On The Border Between Liberia And Guinea

Boredom On The Border Between Liberia And Guinea

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/369852075/369902561" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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  • The bright yellow steel bridge over St. John's River is an official border crossing between Liberia and Guinea. The Liberian-Guinean border has been closed since July to help curb the spread of Ebola.
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    The bright yellow steel bridge over St. John's River is an official border crossing between Liberia and Guinea. The Liberian-Guinean border has been closed since July to help curb the spread of Ebola.
    John W. Poole/NPR
  • A large rusty chain across the bridge, with two padlocks, marks where Liberian territory ends. There's a similar chain on the Guinean side.
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    A large rusty chain across the bridge, with two padlocks, marks where Liberian territory ends. There's a similar chain on the Guinean side.
    John W. Poole/NPR
  • The sign to the customs gate has been nearly overgrown with vegetation. Locals on both sides of the borders are now using the deserted areas near the crossing to plant cassavas and chili peppers.
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    The sign to the customs gate has been nearly overgrown with vegetation. Locals on both sides of the borders are now using the deserted areas near the crossing to plant cassavas and chili peppers.
    John W. Poole/NPR
  • Sylvester Luogon of the Liberian National Police has been assigned to the border crossing for two months as part of a regular police rotation.
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    Sylvester Luogon of the Liberian National Police has been assigned to the border crossing for two months as part of a regular police rotation.
    John W. Poole/NPR
  • The customs house at the Liberian border.
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    The customs house at the Liberian border.
    John W. Poole/NPR
  • Prince Dolo, 34, used to work as a money-changer at the border. Now there's no work. "The reason why I'm not happy is that I have nothing to do," he says. "No means to live. So I think [when] disease stops killing, hunger kills." Now that Ebola is "subsiding," he says, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf should reopen the border.
    Hide caption
    Prince Dolo, 34, used to work as a money-changer at the border. Now there's no work. "The reason why I'm not happy is that I have nothing to do," he says. "No means to live. So I think [when] disease stops killing, hunger kills." Now that Ebola is "subsiding," he says, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf should reopen the border.
    John W. Poole/NPR
  • A group of now-unemployed men still gathers at the border each day to play cards and hang out.
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    A group of now-unemployed men still gathers at the border each day to play cards and hang out.
    John W. Poole/NPR

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They're from the same ethnic group. They speak the same language. And they live on both sides of the Liberia-Guinea divide in the area around Liberia's eastern border city of Ganta, in Nimba County. The families straddle the border, which is not fenced.

"Right over there is the border," says businessman Prince Haward, directing our attention to some rubber farms not too far away. "Those are the rubber farms you find in Guinea."

Many families have relatives who live right across St. John's River, which separates the two countries, he says. They used to cross back and forth at the busy border post.

Then Ebola came, arriving in Liberia back in March when someone from Guinea entered the country. To curb the further spread of the virus, Liberian officials shut the border in July.

Haward, whose family has lived in the area for nearly a century, calls the government wise for closing the border to help protect Liberia — and Ganta. "Life comes first," he says, "before economic activities."

There has definitely been an economic impact. When the border post closed, says Haward, many people lost their jobs.

There's no activity whatsoever: no cars, no trucks, no commerce. And that means no government revenue and no income.

People are twiddling their fingers. Grasses are growing superhigh. There are absolutely no vehicles, no noise, nobody coming and going — nothing.