By Joseph S. Margai (Strategic Communications Coordinator, Office of the President)
The Government of Sierra Leone, through the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA), has over the weekend (27&28 June, 2020), paid over seven billion Leones (Le7bn) as compensation to affected property owners in the Moyamba District.
The payment, which was done at Moyamba Junction, Moyamba Town and Gandorhun, was for over 400 property owners, whose cash crops, houses and other properties were and will be destroyed during the construction of the Moyamba-Moyamba Junction Road and Bridges.
SLRA’s Director of Planning, Policy and Research who doubles as the Project Manager for the above-mentioned Road Project, Engineer Vandi French, said during the construction work, cash crops, houses, etc., will be demolished, people’s land will be converted as borrow pits and quarries.
“These are the people the government is paying compensation to now. The construction of this road started in 2018 and would have been completed in March 2020 but there were many hiccups that delayed its completion,” he stated.
He said the government, through SLRA, wants every affected property owner to feel satisfied before the construction project ends.
SLRA’s Director of Finance, James Lebbie, told the beneficiaries that payment is done through cheques and the monies would be collected at the Union Trust Bank (UTB).
“Prior to this day, SLRA had issued letters to those that should benefit. The cheques would only be issued to them after producing a valid identity card and the letters that SLRA earlier issued to them. To ensure transparency of the payment process, SLRA invited officials from the Ministry of Finance, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Audit Service, Civil Society Organizations, local authorities and other observers, to witness the entire process.
Tasima Jah, Ministry of Finance’s Budget Director, said the payment of compensation is a fulfilment of government’s commitment to the EU-funded road project, adding that that was the final payment of compensation to affected property owners on the said road.
“Having received compensation, we don’t expect you to come again and make further requests,” he warned.
Representative of the National Authorizing Office (NAO), Robert Ganda, said in the agreement signed between the government of Sierra Leone and the European Union for the construction of the Moyamba-Moyamba Junction Road, the government should pay compensation to affected property owners and give a duty waiver to all the equipment that are brought in by the contractors for the construction work.
Paramount Chief Gulama of Kaiyamba Chiefdom in the Moyamba District, thanked the Bio led government for constructing the Moyamba-Moyamba Junction Road.
He said prior to the construction of the said road, people were spending long and tedious hours on the road from Moyamba Town to Moyamba Junction because of the many potholes on it.