During the month of February, our Head of Operations got an email from Mr. Tunde Kushimu of NEC West Africa Limited, a subsidiary of NEC Corporation of Japan to confirm his interest in partnering with NEC to deploy 23 Thermography cameras in 10 locations in Liberia.
After accepting, he called me up from my seat that evening and asked me to read the mail he received and had been responding to. I was like “wow”! Sounds good. He said this is not all. The reason I called you is that I want to put you on this project and I trust you can do it but let’s see if this will come to reality.
I was excited with the idea of my boss but when I explained this to my department head, he said that this could be 4.1.9 which means a scam but I thought to myself again, how? By the way, we were recommended by one of our clients, the Japanese International Corporation Agency (JICA) so I said to him that this can’t be. After few days I overhead him discussing it with our Head of Operations on the same scam. I was feeling discouraged somehow for this would have been an experience for me if it works.
The news on this whole project died down for I could not hear anything concerning it but there was some underground work that was going on which I was not copy on email. Before then I was asked if I had my passport and when I said no, he quickly arranged funds to have my passport ready just in case. But I’ll tell you; in Liberia about 65 percent don’t have a passport. People only get passport if they have a chance/opportunity to travel out of Liberia. I first started to prepare with obtaining my birth certificate, which can take three to one months. The processes here is very slow, but guess what happened? Instead of them inserting male, on my birth certificate they inserted female. I took it back to the Ministry of Health to have it corrected. I filled in the form and paid the fees at the (LRA) Liberia Revenue Authority and kept the original copy of my receipt.
The assistant started to delay the process again after explaining the urgency of my travel. I noticed that this guy needed a ‘small thing’ (Bribe). I give him what he requested and my passport was issued to me on the 6th of June.
NATC arranged my ticket on the 8th of June to fly to Accra and the next day to Lagos. It was nice sleeping in Accra for a night in a beautiful hotel called Eracta. The next morning I flew to Lagos and the same day the training was conducted in this address: 3rd Floor, MAKU PLAZA, No.109, Awolowo Road, South-West Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria for three days. The training included setup, configuration of the camera and the survey.
I returned to Liberia on the 13th of June.
On Monday, 15th of June I contacted the Mr James Dobor Jallah, the Director of the Ebola Command Centre of Liberia to provide the contact persons of all the sites to start my survey.
The contact persons would not provide me access. They kept me waiting all day as if I was from different planet until my boss joined me. I can tell you one thing, we don’t respect our own people and it’s very sad. You will only be recognised if you are holding a very good position before you will be recognised.
Moving on, the site surveys were completed and the installations began:
- 1) Robert International Airport
- 2) James Spriggs Payne Domestic Airport
- 3) University of Liberia main campus
- 4) University of Liberia Fendall campus
- 5) Freeport of Monrovia
- 6) Buchannan Port
- 7) Sinoe Port
- 8) Harper Port
- 9) Ministry of Finance
- 10) Ministry of Transport
Instead of the original 8 sites, we were instructed to add additional 2 sites by the Ebola Command Centre.
Installation was not an easy task. Some of the sites did not even had electricity and we had to run behind the authorities and even had to hire our own electrician.
For every site I installed the cameras, I conducted a basic training for those who are going to take/ check body temperature at each entrance (s).
One of the sites that were very difficult to deal with was the Freeport of Monrovia. Authorities refused to take responsibility of the equipment installed; everyone wants to show his/her power.
Second, Harper Port and Greenville Ports were difficult due to bad road conditions. I often had to sleep on the road because the vehicle broke down.
These were my favourite installations:
- Roberts International Airport
- James Spring Spain Domestic Airport
- University of Liberia main campus
- University of Liberia Fendall campus
- Buchanan Port
- Ministry of Finance
- Ministry of Transport
I have learned the technology is advancing every day. I had never before seen a camera that could detect the human body’s temperature. Not only that I was trained in how to use it and train others.
The deadly disease called Ebola brought a lot of sorrow and devastation to many families to where ever it broke out, and has taken an important page in our history. Many people died from ignorance and fear. Thanks to the International Community and donor partners for seeing the need to come to our rescue.
In every community, churches, mosques, schools, hospitals, clinics and business centres are practicing personal hygiene.
I like to say thanks to the management of New Africa Technology Company (NATC) for supporting me in every aspect of this project especially Mr Haresh, Head of operations for working along with me.
I am willing to doing more in exploring my experience.
By Daniel Collins