With support from the Government of Sierra Leone, the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) through its Directorate of Relief and Response together with various Ministries (MDAs), Departments and Agencies and Partners has provided cash transfer, food and non-food items, and medical support assurance to the Wellington Fire Victims.
It could be recalled that on the 5th of November 2021, at Old Wharf Junction – Wellington, East End Freetown, a loaded fuel tanker collided with a truck carrying granite stones. The collision led to fuel spillage which eventually attracted residents to visit the scene to scoop fuel and stored it in nearby makeshift structures. It was during the process of scooping the fuel that a fire broke out killing 154 people, leaving hundreds with serious life threatening injuries.
Since the incident happened, the NDMA provided leadership and coordinated MDAs, NGOs and partners to ensure a swift response, rehabilitation and recovery.
Speaking at the event, the Director General of NDMA, Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Brima Sesay explained about the establishment, mandate of NDMA and the entire response process.
“The NDMA was established in 2020 as a result of a promise made by His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio to the people of this country during the 2018 campaigns. The mandate of the agency is to manage disasters and similar emergencies throughout Sierra Leone and to also develop the capacity of communities to respond effectively to disastersand emergencies” he explained.
The DG further disclosed that NDMA through it Directorate of Relief and Response has supported of a population of 25,374 nationwide. Out of this number, the NDMA supported 5,174 households with food and non-food items, 1,507 houses and 67 public structures assorted building materials and 226 businesses with direct cash transfers who suffered from various disasters since the agency was established.
He also thanked the Ministry of Social Welfare for providing psychosocial support to the victims and those who lost loved ones. He also appreciated the remarkable role played by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) taking the various degree of burns they were confronted with to treat.
“President Bio had to cancel his overseas working trip short and returned home to sympathize with the victims and assured the affected population of Free Medical treatment. He also promised to institute an investigation into the circumstances leading to the fire incident. The investigation committee laterpresented a comprehensive report to HE Julius Maada Bio within the prescribed timeframe”, the DG added.
Dilating on the contributions of partners and well-wishers, the DG said NDMA has identified, verified and registered 310 affected persons/next of Kin, 2 households, 2 houses, 5 shops (makeshifts and containers), 48 motorbikes and 3 tricycles.
He said that NDMA was able to receive cash and kind donation for the affected persons from the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association (SLMDA), Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRCS), Partners in Health, Concern Sierra Leone, Handicap International, SLPP North America Region, Caritas Freetown, CRS, Choithram-SL, World Vision, All For One, Kri Progressive Association, Kono District Diaspora, Street Child and others.
He pointed out that donated cash support were made by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, the Indian Mercantile Association, Nutrifood (S.L) Limited, Staff of NASSIT, NASSIT Trust Fund, Eminent Women of Peace, Summa Airport Sierra Leone, New Apostolic Church, Premium Divine Trading, Thailand Republic, LEONE NET WhatsApp Group, Mandingo Muslim Jamat and a young Sierra Leonean student, Janice William.
“I am convinced that most of you have in one way or the other received donated items (cash & kind). The Government of Sierra Leone is here today to present the affected persons and beneficiaries of those who lost their lives, relief package in addition to the items that were donated by our partners. I am sure there will be peace of mind, restoration of hope and appreciation following the distribution of items that would officially mark the completion of this response today”, he expressed.
Representing the President of Sierra Leone, the Senior Adviser to the President, Mr. John Oponjo Benjamin thanked the President for setting up of the NDMA as per his 2018 manifesto.
“I thank the President for establishing the NDMA. Before NDMA, emergency structures were established when incidents occur. When there is Cholera, Malaria or Ebola Outbreak, there is a temporary arrangement which will always fade away. But the president thought it necessary to establish and equip the NDMA in order to empower communities and effectively manage disasters”.
“We are establishing a Burns Unit at Connaught to train our doctors and that will enable them to help other countries when the need arise. Before anyone could come during the Wellington incident, NDMA, MoHS and the community were the first to intervene and before any other Partner could support our victims, institutions such as NASSIT which was created by SLPP is among the first to support. SLPP has empowered people and created institutions that will provide meaningful support whenever necessary”, he concluded.
Alhaji Komeh, a victim, and the Country Director of All For One Foundation, Madam Katie Milazzo both expressed their gratitude for government’s timely intervention and conveyed their utmost appreciation.
“It is God’s plan that we are victims, and we are thankful to God, the Government of Sierra Leone and more especially the NDMA for their relentless support. We are grateful”, saidAlhaji Komeh.
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