By Lansana Fofanah.
Three local contractors; Parpah Chendeka CEO of SEON Construction, Mohamed Gento Kamara of Gento Group and Alimu Barrie of PAVI FORT, yesterday handed over fifty two houses to the Government of Sierra Leone at Six Mile which they constructed for victims of the 14th August mudslide.
Making his remarks, the President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma said that the loud sound from Mount Sugar Loaf and the flooding on August 14th, 2017 left an indelible mark in the history of Sierra Leone as many lives were lost and thousands became homeless.
“The disaster was approached nationally as many provided temporal shelters, while contractors came with machines to clear the debris. We appreciate the efforts of the international community for stepping in at the right time to manage the situation that was beyond our reach. This fifty two homes built by our brothers is a sign of going beyond their corporate social responsibility and demonstration of nationalistic tenets”, he said.
President Koroma said that we are learning great lessons from private sectors and that will help us in overcoming future challenges.
He promised to use his office in making sure that the right people benefit from this free service.
Chairing the program, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Alpha Kanu said that the mudslide took government unaware when it struck killing hundreds of Sierra Leoneans within an hour and made 3,500 homeless.
He said that efforts like this coming from young Sierra Leoneans to create 52 permanent homes, has never been seen in Sierra Leone and probably in the sub-region.
“Your Excellency, this is a manifestation of your local content policy and how it will help in making our young and industrious Sierra Leoneans the next generation of development”, he said.
The outgoing Chairman of the Western Area Rural District Council, Alhassan Cole said that, the occasion should serve as a day of reflection and to remember those that lost their lives in the mudslide.
He admonished the beneficiaries to be rest assured that they will benefit from every facility that they have been enjoying.
CEO Papah Chendeka of SECON said that the torrential rain on August 14 2017, caused the loss of lives of hundreds of Sierra Leoneans.
“We as local contractors could not hold back our tears when we visited the disaster areas. On the 21st of August, we thought to ourselves to champion the first phase of constructing these structures free of cost. This project was done under the initial names of the three of us, G for Gento, A for Alimu and P for Parpah (GAP)
We also constructed thirty three rooms as orphanages and a community center”, he said
Giving the estimate of the project, Mr Chendeka said that it cost them eight Billion Leones to do this construction and it is a sign of a growth of the local content policy.
Mohamed Gento Kamara of Gento Group said that he was pleased that the project has been successfully completed.
He said that for far too long, they as local contractors have been like spectators in the construction sector, but the confidence reposed on them by this government is a manifestation that they too can compete in the development of building this nation.
“We did not do this to create an impression that we have money, but a way to give back to society”, he said.
Representing the World Bank, Parminder Brar said that this project is a demonstration of the efforts of private sector for creating a home for the homeless.
He said that Freetown has exceeded the number of inhabitants it was created for, and the flooding had shown that people are prone to disaster, and government should think of long term solution to avoid such disaster in future.
He called on government to strengthen the private sector as the country is blessed with natural resources that can be used to develop the country. He also called on the government to learn from lessons learned from the management of the whole disaster.