The Parliamentary Committee on Water Resources, which is chaired by Hon. Sualiho Monyaba Koroma, has returned from a week-long oversight visits to water and sanitation facilities in the North, South and Eastern regions of the country.
During the course of its public hearings before site visitations to monitor and evaluate water and sanitation facilities in Kenema, Makeni, Bo, Kambia, Koinadugu, Pujehun, Lunsar, and Mile 91, the Chairman told beneficiaries and stakeholders present that the Committee has the locus standi to inquire into the activities of ministries, departments and agencies relating to water, and make recommendations to the plenary that may lead to proposals for legislations.
The water supply and sanitation project in the three towns (Kenema, Makeni and Bo), according to the Coordinator, Dr. Joe Ben Davies, costs US$61.1 million; a pool of donor funds aims at improving access to adequate, safe and reliable water supply and public sanitation facilities for the aforementioned cities; from current levels of less than 5% to 75% in 2015; through rebuilding and expansion of existing infrastructure; and improvement of sanitation in public places; and to enhance the institutional, operational and management capabilities of SALWACO; the agency under the Ministry of Water Resources charged with the responsibility of providing quality drinking water for the poor in rural communities.
He furthered that physical progress on work achieved so far by contractors (CHICO and BUCG) has reached 41% for Kenema, 40% for Makeni, and 39% for Bo. He said the project is expected to be completed in 18 months.
Some of the issues and concerns raised during the deliberations were related to uniform tariff payment for water supply services; management and security of the facilities; inadequate safety gears for local workers at some sites; compensation for land use; alternative provision for clean drinking water; contractors to strongly uphold local content policy and corporate social responsibility, among others.
A member of the Committee did comment that “once the water supply projects have been revived, expanded and completed throughout the country, it has the potential to supply under 10 million gallons per day; which will be sufficient for home use and package for export thereby increasing the earnings of government and complementing an integral component for the achievement of the Agenda for Prosperity”.