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Following the President’s declaration of the State of Public Health Emergency in July last year, which imposed several restrictions on people and businesses in the country’s renewed fight against the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Viral Disease (EVD), the President has deemed it expedient to lift ban on the number of passengers or commuters private commercial drivers should carry at a time.

In other words, the usual seating capacities that were reduced to at least one passenger or commuter for every seat in commercial vehicles as part of enforcing the Public Health Emergency Regulations and other bye-laws to prevent the spread of the epidemic through body contacts have returned to normal capacities. This decision by the President to lift the restriction comes following the drastic reduction in the number of new Ebola cases across the country especially when districts like Pujehun, Kailahun and Bonthe have registered zero cases for more than 42 days while many others have gone for some weeks without registering any new cases. The restrictions have helped tremendously to reduce the infection rate countrywide.

Though the Ebola fight is still not yet over, Sierra Leoneans are hopeful that with the continuous registration of one digit cases in only few parts of the country, it is only a matter of time when the virus could be overcome so that the country would be up and running in terms of development strides.

Notwithstanding, the President should also take into consideration other activities that were restricted by the Public Health Emergency Regulations such as public gatherings and social functions, particularly the banning of cinemas and football in order to avoid body contacts. If the private commercial vehicles are now full to capacities, why should the ban on cinemas not be lifted to allow football fans to start watching the foreign leagues on screen for the first time since the European League season commenced in August last year? Most sports viewers can agree with me that sport centres or cinemas are not as often crammed as commercial vehicles except when there are tense matches between rival clubs in England, Spain, Germany and Italy such as Manchester vs. Arsenal, Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, Bayern Munich vs. Burossia Dortmund or AC Milan vs. Inter Milan. Most cinema halls are often empty when fixtures do not involve big matches. Also, in many residential areas in the capital with DSTV, many football fans without the facility would prefer to watch football matches to their neighbourhoods with DSTV facility instead of watching them at public cinemas or sport centres. Only the underprivileged in opulent communities will watch football matches at sport centers or in cinemas while those in slum areas and other poor settlements wholly and solely rely on watching football and other sports in cinemas or sport centres. The poor continue to suffer from the ban on cinemas or sport centres because they lack DSTV facility at home. But for the affluent families, they can watch football matches at home with consummate ease.

Football being the most popular sport in the country and has the propensity to unite football fans most of them youths, my passionate appeal to the President is to consider lifting ban on cinemas or sport centres to allow the public to start watching sports on screen again. It is a source of courage to most of the unemployed youths who would prefer to spend their time at sport centres or cinemas than to go about idling. Besides, thousands of cinema or sport centre owners across the country have lost serious revenue since the banning of their businesses in July last year. The most unfortunate situation is that many of the owners had already paid their DSTV fees worth hundreds of millions of Leones ahead of the opening of the 2014/2015 European League season in August when the Public Health Emergency Regulations were suddenly declared by the President. They have lost all what they invested in the DSTV right and their predicament will continue until the President considers lifting the ban for them to re-start the once buoyant business again. It must be emphasized that only the President has the prerogative to make this happen for his fellow compatriots who are in their millions. And being the Fountain of Honour and Father of the Nation, I hope the President will make consideration for the millions of Sierra Leonean football fans to start viewing football matches in cinemas or sport centres again after seven months ban on this social activity.