The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, conducted a three-day sensitization of 11 communities at the human/domestic/wildlife and ecosystem interface around the Gola Rainforest National Park in Pujehun.
The sensitisation, carried out by FAO, through its Emergency Centre for Trans boundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), brought community chiefs, “mammy queens”, female community leaderand youth leaders from Zimmi, Pewa, Nyeyama, Gbekpa, Jeneva, Bayama, Sandebuima, Dombu, Baguima, Matai, and Ngiewuba to participate in interactive discussions and learning on zoonotic diseases. The raising awareness session focused on the transmission pathways, prevention and control of priority zoonotic diseases and living with animals (domestic and wild animals) safely at the interface. They enabled community leaders to improve awareness on threats of zoonotic diseases from animals to humans and on ways to protect themselves from threats from contracting these infectious zoonotic diseases.
Sierra Leone is a major hotspot for emerging viral zoonotic diseases. Emerging and re-emerging disease infections in Sierra Leone are increasing because of its rich natural habitat, enormous wildlife species and increased human-wildlife interactions resulting from increased agricultural and hunting activities. The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in 2014-2015 greatly devastated the country’s economy, trade, tourism and social and economic wellbeing of the people.
Dr. Noelina Nantima, the Animal Health Advisor at FAO ECTAD, said, “This sensitization will raise awareness among the communities living near the interface on risks of disease transmission, prevention and control of priority zoonotic diseases”. She also added, “The community engagement will enable to document practices and behaviors that increase the risk of human exposure to Priority Zoonotic Diseases (PZDs) at the human, domestic, wildlife interface and to guide development of community led actionable plans for prevention and control of those PZDs.”
Lassa fever outbreaks in the country and Marburg virus disease outbreaks in neighboring Guinea in 2021, as well as the discovery of Marburg virus in Fruit-eating bats, has put the county under high risk of pathogen spillover that may cause disastrous effects.
The initiative would support the communities to understand and build strength in handling and reporting wildlife mortalities and other abnormalities in the ecosystem; sentry in these communities will enable the identification, mapping of potential hotspots, the collection and testing of samples from domestic animals – wild birds and mammals at the interface.
Mr. Momoh Massaquoi, the Head of the Wildlife Unit at the Ministry of Environment, noted, surveillance help detect the potential outbreak of viral diseases affirmed that. “Previous investigations found that Lassa fever is dominant in the Kenema and Tonkolili district, this is the chance for us to rule out from this part of the country the presence of Lassa fever or any other potential zoonotic virus before it becomes a threat to the country.”
Following the community sensitization, 13 technical personnel from the Wildlife Unit and the livestock and Veterinary Services Division at the national and district level were trained on disease surveillance and reporting wildlife mortalities, morbidities and abnormalities. The training will enhance sample collection, processing and shipment, field biosafety and biosecurity. The trained officers will be implementing passive and active surveillance at the human-domestic-wildlife interface along the Gola Rainforest National Park in the Pujehun district.
Lawyer Pious Sesay Testifies in his Alleged Robbery Case
By Feima Sesay
Lawyer Musa Pious Sesay has on Monday, April 4 2022 testified in the ongoing preliminary investigation into an alleged robbery involving three accused persons.
The accused persons Mohamed Lamin Sesay, Amara Sesay and Doris Tucker made their second appearance before Magistrate Mark Ngegba of Pademba Road Court No.2 in Freetown on three charges of Conspiracy to commit a crime contrary to law and two counts of Robbery with Aggravation contrary to section 23 (1) (a) of the Larceny Act 1916, as repealed and replaced by Section 2 of Act No.16 of 1971.
According to the particulars of offence on count one, the accused persons on Tuesday, 22 March 2022 at Berwick Street by Gabriel Street Junction, Freetown, conspired together with other persons unknown to commit a felony to wit Robbery with Aggravation. While count two added that the accused persons being armed with a knives robbed Pious Sesay of one pink colour Blue smart mobile phone valued at six million and five hundred thousand Leones (6,500,000), which were property of his Clerk, Samuel Conteh.
The police further alleged that on count three the accused persons on the same date and place, being armed with a knife robbed Samuel Conteh of his Black Techno Spark-2 mobile phone valued at two million five hundred thousand Leones (2,500,000).
Prosecution witness No 1, Musa Pious Sesay led in evidence by ASP Hawa Bah recognized the accused person and further recalled Tuesday 22nd March 2022. He added that on that day he went to his wife’s house to have his phone charged, together with his clerk and that on their way back to his office, they saw a large crowd coming towards them holding stones and weapons and that it was the first accused that attached him.
He said the group was over thirty including two females, adding that it was the first, second and third accused who grab his phone and stab him. He described the first accused person as the one who stab him on his left finger and that immediately after which blood was oozing out of his hand and they ran away with his phones.
Lawyer Sesay further discloses that it was the third accused Doris Tucker that led him to the others and they were later taken to the Adelaide Street police station and that he was issued police medical form and statement was obtained from him.
All the accused persons during cross examination denied the allegation.
However Magistrate Ngegba refused bail and sent both accused persons to the male and female Correctional center in Freetown whiles the matter was adjourned to the 11th April 2022 for further hearing.
‘Belgium’ community burns again!
A fire disaster breaks through Belgium, a slums area in the Capital City of Freetown under the Congo Cross Bridge at 4am, Monday 4 March, 2022.
According to report the people in that underprivileged ‘Belgium’ community, like their compatriots at Kolleh Town, Old Wharf, Susan’s Bay, Kroo Bay, were rudely woken up to the calamity of a fire accident.
Just a few hundred meters from the scene of this latest disaster is the Youyi Building which houses several government ministries, including the Ministry of ‘Lands, Housing and Country Planning’. Such a ministry exists yet ordinary Sierra Leoneans – from all regions of the country – continue to live in subhuman conditions in makeshift structures built in inaccessible and disaster – prone areas across our city.
And when disasters like this breakout, the people are on their own. With bare hands, stones, sticks and buckets of water; they helplessly expend their little energies in the futile endeavor to salvage whatever little household items they may have.
Painfully, as in this case, after everything would have burnt down, the hard working fire services, operating under very poor conditions of service, would show up, more as a further reminder of the dysfunctional state of our governance system.
Years of toil decimated, scores of Sierra Leoneans rendered homeless in no time; and no chance of any institutional compensation; state or otherwise. If anything, what the victims get would be uncoordinated, unstructured and inadequate makeshift “relief support’.
Then, once again, they move on to business as usual, without any concrete plans or actions to address the age -old housing emergency and the mushrooming of unplanned communities.
Abandoned to fate, the resilient victims of both the fire and bad governance would be on their own, helplessly picking up the pieces without the necessary support to rebuild.
With the dire economic situation in the country, such a calamity would only make a bad situation worse for a community already down – pressed by social and economic hardships. But according Dr. Samura Kamara, the leading presidential aspirant of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC), the problem of housing and informal settlements in urban areas would be given serious consideration in his development agenda.
“I have visited several communities which have suffered from fire accidents and I’ve seen firsthand the dangers and the indignities our compatriots endure in such communities,” he said.
Speaking in anticipation of the June 2023 presidential elections, the opposition politician further said that “Housing and effective urban planning will be a major agenda of my government when elected as President”
While such policy commitment is reassuring, the victims in the ‘Belgium’ community under the Congo Cross Bridge in Freetown would wonder about what they have lost and where they will lay their heads when night falls.
Real Estate Agent Remanded For 200 Million Leones Fraud
By Feima Sesay
A 29yrs old Dominic Monrovia a real estate agent was on Monday 4th April 2022 sent to prison by Magistrate Sahr Kekura of Pademba road court No.1 in Freetown for allegedly defrauding Joseph Sahr Bangura the sum of le200 million.
The accused who made his second appearance was arraigned on one count charge of Fraudulent Conversion Contrary to section 20 (1) (IV) (a) of the Larceny Act 1916
According to the particulars of offence, the accused sometimes in November 2021 at Signal Hill in Freetown Fraudulently converted to his own use or benefit certain property that is to say the sum of two hundred million Leones(200,000,000) entrusted to him by Joseph Sahr Bangura for the purpose of delivering, property to the said Joseph Sahr Bangura The prosecutor Sergeant 9939 Lahai M intimated the court that the complainant is absent and therefore could not proceed with the matter in the circumstances requested an adjournment to Subpoena him.
Defence counsel F Kortu applied for bail on behalf of the accused person pursuant to section of 79 (3) of the Criminal procedure Act No.32 of 1965.
However Magistrate Kekura refused bail and sent the accused person to remand and the matter was adjourned to the 6th April 2022 for further hearing
Sergeant 9939 Mohamed Lahai is prosecuting the Matter on behalf of the Inspector General of Police.
SALWACO launches Le558 Water Project
The Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO) on Saturday 2nd April 2022 signed contracts and launched the Six Towns Water Supply Project in Moyamba District worth five hundred and fifty eight billion Leones (Le558 billion).
This project is the biggest Water project ever funded by the government of Sierra Leone under H.E President Julius Maada Bio.
The launching took place at the Moyamba District Council hall with colourful ceremony.
Welcoming participants at the launching, the Paramount Chief, PC Momoh Gulama expressed his profound gratitude and happiness for the Project.
He said since the coming of President Julius Maada Bio, the district continues to witness development.
“This District has been without pipe borne water for the last forty years, so this is a dream come true” he said.
PC Momoh assured SALWACO and the Ministry that they will continue to monitor the project to its logical conclusion.
Giving the overview of the Project, the Managing Director of SALWACO talked about the procurement process which started last year.
He said only Kabala, Kambia and Magburaka were successful and it is prudent that the project is launched after the completion of the Procurement process for all the other lots.
Vandi noted that the project will target 100% customers and before the completion, connection of pipe networks would have been done.
He said the Management and staff spent sleepless nights to have the project to this point while thanking staff for the hard work.
He thanked the government of Sierra Leone for providing the funds noting that the project is solely funded by the government under the leadership of President Bio.
The Managing Director called on the council, local authorities including the people to protect the facility.
“There are lots of human activities happing from the in-take of the raw water, treatment plant and pipe network and this is not good for the project. “Don’t buy cement from contractors or attempt to buy anything relating to the project. We have seen projects fail because of such attitudes. Let us protect what we have” he said.
He called on the contractors to deliver on time while adding that reasonable charges will be put on the water because to get clean water to the door steps involves money.
In his statement, the Chairman Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Water, Hon. Lahai Marah said that one key responsibility of Parliament is oversight.
He said they as committee will continue to hold government to accountable and that they will continue to provide oversight.
Hon. Marah said they are satisfied with the Six Towns Water Supply Project but what opined that the disturbing thing about project implementation is the delays in releasing funding.
He called on the Ministry of Finance to fast track payment so as to complete the project on time.
Hon. Marah noted that very soon contractors will be called to explain about progress because the project is at the heart of the people.
“Water is life and we need each and every person to support this project. Let us make sure this project succeeds” he said.
The Chairman Board of Directors, Alhaji Mohamed A. Jalloh was quick to point out the work of the Board taking into cognizance the oversight and supervisory role.
Chairman Jalloh noted that water is life and each and every beneficiary must be vigilant to monitor the implementation.
Speaking during the ceremony, the Deputy Minister of Local Government Mrs. Melrose Kamity stressed on collaboration with all the sectors. She said that from the Paramount Chief down to village headman were under the Ministry and since they are with the people, they should jealously protect the project. “This is tax payers’ money, your money and since Government has thought of these districts to provide water, you must handle it with care and protect it” she advised beneficiaries.
Giving the Keynote address and launching the project, the Minister of Water Resources, Philip Karimu Lansana said there have been several calls for Moyamba District to have safe, clean and affordable pipe borne water.
The Minister said an investigation was launched into water access in Moyamba and the five other Districts and developed a proposal that was presented to the Ministry of Finance.
He assured that the water sector has put in place structures that will see the implementation of projects.
“My Ministry has a team that periodically goes round and monitors happenings on the ground. We also have sectorial meetings where we discuss project activities and this is enough assurance that this project will succeed.
After the Completion of the project, all the houses in Moyamba Township will have access to clean and safe drinking water”, he assured the people of Moyamba.
Lansana noted that the water will not be free and that with this SALWACO will be able to strive and do maintenance without bordering government.
He called on the people to protect the project by monitoring the project and not to allow the sale of project materials.
“As a government we are in a hurry to make progress, let us try and do the work on time. The people want to see result and government also wants to see that result” the Minister said
He called for the collaboration and synergy among stakeholders.
Speaking during the handing over of Site, the Director of Project Management who also doubles as the Project Manager for the Six Towns Water Supply Project, Yankuba Jusu Tarawally said the project will be completed in sixteen months and over four hundred thousand people will benefit from the entire project.
He said the project will be implemented in accordance with the Contract agreement.
Beneficiary Districts include, Moyamba, Kabala, Kailahun, Magburaka, Kambia and Pujehun.
The signing of contract and launching of the project was climaxed with the handing over of the Moyamba project site to contractors. Handing over sites of Pujehun and Kailahun will be done soonest.
ADVOCACY ORGANIZATION AWARDS NATIONAL CEREMONIAL CHAIRMAN
The Transparent Union Youth Advocacy Organization (TUYAO) had awarded a certificate of recognition to the appointed National Ceremonial Chairman under the auspices of the Council of Traditional Healers Sierra Leone.
Doctor Abu Will (Pa Mancha Kawaleh) received the certificate of achievement award as the best herbalist in the Western Area Rural District (WARD), titled “60 Most Successful Sierra Leoneans and Development Awards” at Jabex Complex in Waterloo Township on March 25th, 2022.
Speaking to the media after receiving the prestigious award, Doctor Will who hailed from Kagboro Chiefdom in Moyamba District gratified the youthful organization for recognizing him as a result of his hard work in serving humanity, adding that “I inherited this herbalism skill from my forefathers before I became a senior initiator in the Civil Defense Force (Kamajor) during the eleven years civil conflict in Sierra Leone”.
He narrated that his forefathers migrated from Sherbro land and settled at Yonibana Chiefdom, where they introduced one of the popular secret societies in Sierra Leone known as “Poro Society”, noting that he was crowned at Yonibana as the National Ceremonial Chairman in honor of his natural gift.
Chairman Will recalled that he was Deputy Ceremonial Chief under the leadership of Doctor Sulaiman Kabbah as President for the Sierra Leone Indigenous Traditional Healers Union (SLITHU), emphasizing that as a member of many secret societies, he was grateful for a set of Sierra Leoneans to think about him at his little corner.
“The advocacy organization awarded me because they believed the fact that I deserved the honor”, he told journalists and described a ceremonial chief as a spiritual person.
Dr. Will sensitized that according to the code of ethics in the traditional world; the ceremonial chief is the traditional head all secret societies and traditions and mentioned that he was happy to proclaim that he is the current Head of all Sokobanas in Sierra Leone.
He also described the Council of Traditional Healers Union as a nonpolitical organization, advancing that “We are traditional healers, not killers”, he stated and admonished both senior and junior colleagues in the profession to stop presenting themselves as evil or bad people.
Dr. Will encouraged traditional healers to not involve in ritual activities, but they should exhibit or display their professionalism through the power of the leaf.
He said traditional healers are not drunkard or senseless people, but they were existed to serve as life and property savers and mentioned that herbalist work was as Godly profession.
Doctor Will frankly state that he was there not only to defend traditional unions, but to also apprehend anyone that might act contrary to the code of ethics of the profession.
The National Ceremonial Chairman came to conclusion by encouraging all traditional initiators, including Soweis to not forcefully join or initiate an underage in to any secret society across the length and breadth of Sierra Leone