A delegation from the Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO) which includes the Board and Management of the Company on the 18th January, 2023 concluded a stakeholder’s consultative meeting on the Blama-Bandawo Project with a viewpoint to speedily complete the project and to subsequently supply safe drinking water to the people.
In his welcome address, the Chiefdom Speaker of Small Bo, Chief Ishmeal S. Koroma said that the engagement could not have come at a better time. He said that the said project had been on for years and that the people now look forward to its full implementation.
Chairman of the event, who happened to be the Managing Director of SALWACO, Ing George Lamin Vandi, gave a succinct background of the project which he said had started since 2014. He said that a lot had happened over the years but that there was a concern that the project is yet to reach a successful completion. He said that it was on such note that the Ministry of Water Resources, represented by the Hon. Deputy Minister was at the site to get first-hand information and to see what could be the way forward. Ing. Vandi said that the Management of SALWACO is expecting the project to be completed anytime soon and that contractors should be able to live up to expectations.
Paramount Chief of Small Bo Chiefdom, PC Mohamed Daffie Benga V said that since the commencement of the project, a lot has been going on, but observed that information flow has largely not been appreciable. He said that having the right information will put them in a better position as Chiefdom and Traditional authorities to fully and realistically communicate with the people.
The Paramount Chief of Niawa Chiefdom, Kenema District, PC Mariama Jaward Tamia III reestablished the fact that water is life and that it should not be treated with levity. She said that the stakeholders and chiefdom authorities had done very well to see that the project is successfully completed and therefore urged for fruitful deliberations to ensure that the project becomes a success.
Representative of the Water Resources Committee in Parliament, Hon Brima Mansaray informed that there have been lesser engagements with community people on the project and therefore referred to the meeting as first of its kind this time. He said that at a time like this, everything should be done to successfully complete the project and that there should be no room for excuses.
The Kenema District Council Secretary stated that he was very happy with the development and that the project should be continued as it was already near completion. He said that people may not be in position to understand the technicalities and other associated challenges of the project and therefore appealed that everything possible should be done to complete the project for the benefit of all.
The SALWACO MD further informed all present on how SALWACO is the implementing agency of the project and that the Company has a responsibility to embark on a day-to-day monitoring and to subsequently report to the Minister of Water Resources. He said that the Company is now at a level where excuses will no longer be tolerated. He said that the only option is for the contractor to assure that before the end of March-April, 2023, the project must have been completed. He said that a failure to deliver will leave SALWACO with no other option, but to scout out another contractor who will be able to complete the project on time. He said that the assessment performance of the contractors will now inform next action points.
The Contractors of the project said that the meeting was very timely and that they look forward to complete the water facility. They cited Ebola, COVID-19 and the destruction of pipes as a result of road works as some of the challenges, but appealed for more funding support to fully complete the project.
The SALWACO Project Manager of the Blama-Bandawo Project who also doubles as the Company’s Director of Operations and Management, Ing. Abdul Ben Lebbie said that the functionality of the plant is an issue and that the willingness of the contractor was another. He said that the position of Management is to see that the project is completed and nothing else. He said that the Company has done all within its powers to see that the contactor is able to leave up to expectations.
The representative of the SALWACO Board, Ing Badamasi Savage said that delivery of project is key and that the contractor should avoid solvable excuses. He issued out a two-week grace period to fix the water system, adding that any attempt not to deliver will be met with consequences. He therefore concluded that the water treatment plant is to be fully functional within two weeks, stating that such was the position of the SALWACO Board. He said that any failure will result to termination.
The Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Madam Nimatulai Bah-Chang said that access to clean water is key and that the SALWACO Management and the Contractors should do all within their powers to complete the project. She said that the political will is there to support all implementing agencies and that President Bio has promised to provide safe drinking water for people and urged all parties to put hands on deck and see that all challenges are addressed and safe drinking water delivered to people.
The SALWACO Team will do another inspection within two weeks and to see that the Blama-Bandawo project is absolutely completed and water provided for the people.