By S. U. Thoronka…………………………………
The Minister of Water Resources, Mr. Momodu Maligie has presented to Parliament three water related bills to be enacted into law which included the Sierra Leone Water Company Act, 2017, being an act to provide for the continuance in existence of the Sierra Leone Water Company, to provide for a more efficient and effective management of community and rural water supply systems in specific areas, to provide for the facilitation of water sanitation and delivery in Sierra Leone and to provide for other related matters. The other two were the Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO) and the National Water Resource Management Agency.
Introducing the bills to Parliament, the Minister of Water Resources said that the bills when enacted into law would not only improve the lives of the ordinary Sierra Leoneans but they would also attract both local and foreign investments.
Each of the speakers who contributed to the debate was of the view that the bills presented by the Minister were non-controversial.
SLPP Member of Parliament for Bo District, Hon. J. B. Mansaray said “When we talk about water we talk of life and when we talk about life we talk about our very existence”. So why waste time in passing the bills into law? He queried.
The Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Ansumana Jai Kaikai gave a brief background of Guma Valley dating back from its inception in post Independence era. He said when the dam at Mile 13 was constructed the engineers at the time made provision for less than 500,000 inhabitants in Freetown and today the population of the city is very close to three million.
Honourable Kaikai recalled when the President Ernest Bai Koroma in one of his public speeches said that the use of snake rubbers in the water system should be discouraged.
On that note the MP advised the Minister of Water Resources to have adequate manpower to overcome the challenge on the use of snake rubbers.
The Minority Leader, Honourable Dr. Bernadette Lahai in her contribution noted that there is no productive activity without the involvement of water whether it is transportation in export and import, mining industry, manufacturing and the like.
She said water is an indispensible aspect in our daily life, but hastened to note that climate change has adversely affected the supply of water coupled with the illegal connections that lead to wastages and the slow response.
The Deputy Speaker, Honourable Chernor Bah in his wisdom as a lawyer said although the bills are noncontroversial, he however cautioned that there were certain aspects in the bills bordering on monopoly that needed close consideration quoting Section 91 (1) of the bills.
Members of Parliament under Standing Order 51 resolved that the bills presented by the Minister of Water Resources be referred to the Legislative Committee for further correction. “This was misconstrued by certain media houses as a rejection by Parliament”, the Chairman of the Legislative Committee, Hon. Agibola Manley-Spaine of the APC said.