Hundreds of Sierra Leoneans employees attached to the Public Works Yard (PWD) of the Ministry of Works in Freetown have been rendered jobless after fire engulfed their workshop over the weekend.
On Saturday 4th January, a wild fire submerged the PWD wooden workshop at Pademba road, adjacent the Male Correctional Centre in Freetown at around 10:00 am.
The cause of the first new year's fire accident on a government building is yet unknown. The Harmattan firestorm on the PWD workshop led to the destruction of machines and wooden furniture worth billions of Leones, but no life was lost in the accident.
According to eyewitness report, disabled people dwelling in the same vicinity lit up a log of dirt that was collected during the Saturday cleaning exercise.
One of the employees of the department, Ishmael Turay expressed frustration, stating that he lost almost all of his tools to the inferno.
He expressed fear that government may not undertake urgent repairs of the said structure and that they might lose their jobs.
"We are now jobless because the building which used to house us the workers has been destroyed by the fire. The challenge now is that where can we start because our tools have also been destroyed," he said.
Mayor of the Freetown City Council (FCC) Aki-Sawyerr called on the National Fire Force to speedily investigate and establish the actual cause of the inferno.
"The fire fighters are trained in investigating fire disasters. I have spoken to Kamanda Bongay twice when I was on my way and I am confident that they will mount an investigation. And we as a council and the government as well are very keen to understanding the cause of this fire because this is Harmattan and there will be more chances, opportunities and risk of fire. We want to address the causes of this to minimize disaster," she said.
She noted that national cleaning day or any other days are not ideal to burn their dirt, especially in the dry season because it might lead to fire disaster.
Councilor of Ward 406, Constituency 124, Madam Memmu Sawyer claimed that the fire originated from the axis of the Male Correctional Centre.
Head of the PWD wooden centre, Ibrahim Jabbie, said the Ministry of Works as the supervisory ministry of the department must put mechanisms in place to ensure that those disabled people are relocated to another place.
He also said several attempts were made by the previous administration of the workshop to relocate those disabled people, but that the said effort was derailed by former President Koroma for obvious reasons.