18 January 2018

Sierra Leone: World Bank Says Mudslide/Flood Disaster Funds Well Managed

Photo: Olivia Acland/IRIN
A resident moving mud from his home.

Country Manager of the World Bank has stated that funds provided in the aftermath of the August 14, 2017, mudslide and flooding which killed over one thousand, was well managed.

Parminder Brar was speaking on Tuesday, 16 January, 2017, on behalf of the international community during the official commissioning of 52 dwelling houses and other facilities built by three local construction companies- Pavi Fort, Seacon and Gento Group-as gratis to the government for survivors of the disaster.

There has been several criticisms from civil society organisations and some sections of the public with regards the handling of funds meant for survivors of the disaster.

Even though a private firm; BDO was hired by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to manage the funds, accusing fingers have been pointed at government and other agencies connected to the disaster on alleged misused of the said funds.

But according to Mr. Brar, after they have spoken to the private firm contracted to manage the funds, it came out clearly that the funds were well managed.

"We have seen the account and let nobody say that the money given to the government was chopped. It was not and we do not need to wait for the audit report. We have spoken to the private firm involved and the funds have been managed well," he disclosed.

He noted that there are lots of lessons the country could learn with the way the disaster was managed and what needed to be done going forward.

The World Bank Country Manager called on everyone to work together to move the process forward, while pledging the commitment of the international community, especially the World Bank to continue to stand by Sierra Leone going forward.

He added that President Koroma's greatest gift to the country is keeping the peace, security and religious tolerance.

"I am here to recognise the private sector on behalf of the international community and the three companies in particular. They have done a wonderful job out of nothing. The private sector is coming of age. The biggest problem in Freetown is that the city has grown sideways and upfront with not enough two-storey buildings. We need to think about a long term sustainable solution about the geography of the city," he noted.

Officially commissioning the houses, President Ernest Bai Koroma said: "Today is a time to thank our brothers for going beyond the ordinary response and corporate social responsibility. Let me use this opportunity on behalf of the people to thank you for what you have done for our nation, especially the survivors. This is telling us what we as Sierra Leoneans should do for ourselves. When disasters occur, people should not lose hope but try and turn it into opportunities," he said.

He described the commissioning as a great moment of celebration and in the process people should reflect and challenge themselves that nothing is impossible.

President Koroma stated that the challenge now is to have a housing policy that will not only address the survivors and those living in hazardous areas, but rather the housing deficit of everyone moving forward.

Earlier, heads of the three companies; Mohamed Gento Kamara, Alimu Saidu Barrie and Parpah Chendeka said they were happy to have used their personal resources to help build the homes for victims of the disaster.

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