COVID-19 Pandemic Frontline Sanitation Workers Neglected

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Christian Lawrence, Senior Policy and Advocacy Manager WaterAid Sierra Leone

By: Amara Kargbo

SLENA-Correspondent

 WaterAid Sierra Leone, a not-for-profit making organization that works to make water clean, a decent toilet, and good hygiene normal for everyone has categorically said during the COVID-19 pandemic, sanitation workers in Sierra Leone and many other countries have been largely forgotten, underpaid, unprotected and left to fend for themselves.

Christian Lawrence, Senior Policy and Advocacy Manager WaterAid Sierra Leone raised the above concerns on the 19th November 2021 while they were joining countries in celebrating World Toilet Day at their Head Office, Freetown.

He said the research was carried out by WaterAid at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic on the safety and wellbeing of those who clear and dispose of fecal waste, reveals hazardous working conditions, a dangerous lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), poor training, and legal protection, as well as loss of income for many.

Sanitation workers include people who clean toilets and sewer, empty latrine pits and septic tanks and operate pumping stations and treatment plants as well as those who clear fecal waste manually, sweep rubbish, and transport fecal sludge, WaterAid’s findings also include solid waste workers and cleaners.

Despite providing vital service ensuring human waste is cleared, stored, and disposed of safely, WaterAid found sanitation workers are often marginalized, stigmatized, and shunned as a result of their job. Many have worked on the frontline of the pandemic, throughout national lockdowns, in hospitals and quarantine centers, and the heart of communities with poor access to safe water, decent sanitation, and good hygiene facilities.

Even without the threat of the virus, sanitation work is hazardous. The workforce risks being exposed to a wide variety of health hazards and diseases or can often come into direct contact with human waste. Sharp objects in pit latrines and poor construction can cause injury and infection while toxic gases can make workers lose consciousness or even kill them.

Patrick Cheah, Country of WaterAid Sierra Leone said “the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital role sanitation workers play in our communities, but it has also revealed the vulnerability of this essential workforce that is often undervalued and overlooked. It is unacceptable that so any sanitation workers operate without the support and safeguards the need.”

“WASH services are critical to maintaining public health and will be fundamental to surviving and recovering from the pandemic, and future pandemic, but without sanitation workers, those services will not function. It is important we invest and support the workforce, not just for the sake of public health but also for the economy to ensure the universal access to decent sanitation and better future for all.”

Christian Lawrence continued that there were many workers undocumented and defecation is still a huge taboo in many countries, tackling the issues surrounding the sanitation workforce is challenging. WaterAid is increasing awareness and raising support for sanitation workers, advocating for governments to recognize and protect the rights of the workforce. More research is also being conducted to better understand how to help improve working conditions and empower those vital but forgotten frontline workers.

FCC, MOS End Inter-Primary Schools Football Competition

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By Musa Kamara

The Freetown City Council (FCC) through its devolved sport sector and in partnership with the Ministry of Sport- National Sport Authority (NSA) has on Friday 5th November 2021, concluded a 2-day inter-primary schools football competition.

The event was held at the Saint Thomas Primary School situated at Ascension Town, and over 10 schools across the Freetown Municipality participated.

Jibson Gaima who doubled as Sport Consultant and Devolved Sport Officer attached to FCC, commended all the participating schools and he disclosed that this is not the first time of organizing such a competition within the Freetown Municipality.

He informed that 12 schools are involved in the tournament and they would be provided with cash prizes, certificates and books, amongst others.   

Rugiatu Mansaray who is the Councillor for Ward 428 Constituency 124 at the central part of Freetown and who also doubled as Chairperson for Youths and Sport at FCC expressed that, the competition is not just football, but it is about bringing school communities together, to have fun and express love through sport.

She stated that sport forms an essential aspect of a child’s development and therefore, it helps identify talents in pupils and also motivate them to pursue a career in sport.

Thomas Greene, a teacher at the Ephraim J. Robinson Primary School, situated at Congo Town admitted that, the school happened to be the defending champion and therefore, as a school they are very committed to win again.

He called on sport authorities to ensure providing support for grassroots sport, especially school sport thereby, identifying talents and building a sustainable sport career for pupils.

Ephraim J. Robinson Primary School and Saint Edward’s Primary School qualified for the finale and Ephraim J. Robinson won against Saint Edward’s by 2 goals to 0.

North West & North East Regional Football Association Start Female Competition

The head of female football at the sierra Leone football Association [SLFA]  Haja Ramatulai Kamara, Has affirmed that the North West and North Eastern Region has commenced their female Regional Competition.

Madam Kamara, said that as executive they will make sure that female football play across the various regions. She continued that the southern region are going to kick-off their own female competition on Saturday 13th November 2021at the Bo coronation field.

She admonished all female football team owners in the other regions to get prepare their players because this is time for business gone are the days of plenty explanations now is the practicality she added.

She maintained that, her dream as head of female football in the football association is to see female football teams play in the continental  female competitions and beyond and also to expose and sell the  players outside the country.

LAPO Leads in Loans & Banking in Salone

Mr. Gabriel Eshiague, Managing Director of LAPO-SL

By Abdul Hassan Fackie

Since it started operations in Sierra Leone in 2008, the LAPO microfinance bank has become a household name and has now graduated to operating in the same manner like any commercial bank in the country.

Today, LAPO can boast of thousands of customers right across the country who rely on them for their banking services as well as the microfinance opportunities that the bank also offers to them.

LAPO’s Managing Director, Mr. Gabriel Eshiague, says they are working round the clock to ensure that they deliver quality services and satisfaction to their numerous customers, pay their taxes to government as well as honour  their corporate social responsibilities to the people of Sierra Leone.

He stressed that they treat their customers with the greatest respect, patience and confidentiality, which makes the people happy to do business with them.

He revealed that they rank among the leading microfinance banks in the country with over thirty branches in the sixteen districts of the country and they employ over three hundred and sixty workers with only five Nigerian staff.

Mr. Eshiague disclosed that their loan products include Assets, Consumer (Salary Loan), Small Medium Enterprise, Regular Loan, Group Loan, Energy Loan and know Small Business Loan. He also stated that the only criteria one needs to access their loans is that you have been in employment for at least one or you have an existing business. He stated that they charge low interest rates with a flexible repayment pattern.

Some customers this Reporter spoke to revealed that the loans they take from LAPO has helped them to expand their businesses and improve the lives of their families.

They encouraged business people and workers to access the loans that LAPO gives as they will help them to expand their businesses and improve their lives.

AT WARD C…

Deputy Energy Minister Capacitates Youth Organizations

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      CEO and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Abdul Rahman Morasta Sesay and the musical guru William Taylor aka Wilo Wise

In his positive move to strengthen capacity building among young people in the Western Area Rural District (WARD) of Waterloo, the Deputy Minister of Energy, Dr. Eldred Taylor had thrown his weight behind Lion Mountain Development Organization and the United Diaspora and Morasta (UDM) in promoting youth’s development programs at that part of the country.

Speaking to a cross section of Central Base Journalists Sierra Leone (CBJ-SL) in Freetown during the weekend, General Overseer for UDM, William Taylor recalled that sometimes ago, they wrote a letter to Government through Dr. Taylor, soliciting support for the construction of a modern community car wash and to also provide training opportunities among unskilled youth on various field of work to be self-reliant. “We were very grateful that the Energy Minister approved the ongoing construction project of the facility at a time it was needed most”, he stated and maintained that when completed the building would host an Information and Technology (IT) room, entertainment center, welding shop and other facilities, where young people will be fully equipped and encouraged to learn various vocational training skills. He also thrown light on the loan which they have been given to various youths within their area of operation on Chukuma Johnson Street, New England community in Waterloo through self help and support from concerned stakeholders.

According to Mr. William Taylor who is also a professional Sierra Leonean musician, the six months construction scheme or project would create job opportunity for over fifty (50) hardworking and committed young people.

The General Overseer expressed believe that when completed, beneficiaries are not only going to be kept busy at all-time but the community will also be lively and enjoy the water facility which is going to be provided under the purview of the project.

On behalf of the UDM and community youths, the General Overseer expressed gratitude and appreciation to the Government through the Dr. Taylor, whom he described as a philanthropist, generous and one of the patriotic senior public officials to timely approved the project for the general good of all. He encouraged the Deputy Energy Minister to not relent but to continue with his humanitarian work and called on the beneficiaries to make good use of the opportunity by taking ownership of the entire building facility with the objective to serve future generation so that the most desired result could be achieved.

The General Overseer emphasized that the project will capacitate many beneficiaries and discussed that he would be unfair if he fails to tender his profound thanks and appreciation to the Founder and brain behind UDM, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Abdul Rahman Morasta Sesay, currently staying in Finland.

3 Jailed for Attempting to Steal Nacoverc Vehicle   

By Feima Sesay                

One Abdul Rahman Kamara has narrated how three accused persons including Sulaiman Bah tried to manipulate him to steal one Nissan Land Cruiser belonging to NACOVERC.

The accused persons on the above action are before Magistrate Mark Ngegba of Pademba Road Court No 2 for Preliminary Investigation for conspiracy and other related charges.

Led in his examination in chief by Assistant Superintendent of police Hawa Bah, the witness Abdul Rahman Kamara recognized the accused persons Sulaiman Bah and two others in the dock.

He said on the 13th of October 2021, he got a called form to third accused Sulaiman Bah who gave him some information. He said after receiving the information, he Communicate it with his wife who remarked that the accused has never been a good friend of his.

“I decided to come down to Freetown from Makeni to exposed them”, he stated.

The witness said before coming he alert the resident Minister of North-West Madam Isata Abdulai Kamara that he will be coming to Freetown after some people contacted.

He said he was in possession of some audio records sent to him by second accused Abdulai Kanu. He said they were communicating with him were they are with the vehicle at Wilkinson Road and later at bottom mango Wilberforce.

Explaining further, the witness said they gave him another direction at Hill Cut Road Junction where he finally met them with the vehicle.

He said the accused asked him to enter the vehicle.

“My lord I questioned them where they got the vehicle from and first accused told him he was the hired driver and that his madam has travelled with the first lady to Dubai”, the witness said.

In continuation of his examination in chief, the witness said first accused told him he was to sell the vehicle in Guinea and use the money to travel to Turkey.

“Where I sat, I thought what to do and asked they how much they want to sell it without documents”, he explained.

He said second accused responded that they have bragging for fifty million Leones.

The witness said he proceeded by asking if the vehicle had no threat and they replied in the negative, and further stated that no one is in search of it.

He said they went up to Kambia with the vehicle and on that point he contacted the Resident Minister but all her contacts were off. “At Kambia, we highlighted from the vehicle while he is trying to reach the minister.

“The minister’s driver picked one of her phone and I instructed him to give the minister the phone,” he said.

 He said he informed the minister that some people are trying to seal a Nissan Land Cruiser belonging to NACOVERC.

The witness he distance himself from the accused whiles communicating with the minister on the phone, but at the same time observing what was going on.

He said the resident Minister surfaced at the scene with some police officer who intercepted the accused persons together with the vehicle. He said first accused Emerson Pratt when noticed the police tried to flee but was arrested.

He said he went with the accused and police officers to the station.

“Being the mastermind of the said arrest, I asked the police to detain me together with the accused in order for me to get better glimpse on what they are planning to say when making statement,” the witness narrated.

He said the matter was transferred to the Criminal Investigation Department Headquarters at Pademba Road, where he made statement.

Testing his evidence in cross examination by defense counsel CI Williams, the witness said he has known the second accused before the incident.

In another question put to him, the witness responded that the record he has for the entire even was not full, because he use to get some break down.

He said he has the chance to record because he was alone at the back seat when they are going to Kambia.

A the end of cross examination, the matter was adjourned to the 4th of December 2021.

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