‘Affordable housing for mudslide victims not free of charge’

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-says Presidential Spokesman

October 31, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

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Presidential Spokesperson,Abdulai Bayraytay

The spokesman in the Office of the President has stated that 52 dwelling houses currently being constructed by three local construction companies will not be occupied free of charge as rumoured.

Few days after the flooding and mudslide disaster on August 14 this year, which claimed the lives of over one-thousand people and rendered thousands more homeless, three indigenous construction companies – Pavi Fort, Gento Group and Secon Sierra Leone Limited – presented a proposal to President Ernest Bai Koroma for the construction of 52 self-contained dwelling houses of 2 bedrooms each, gratis, for families affected by the disaster.

Victims of the twin disasters had initially thought that they would be allowed to occupy the new houses, upon completion, without being asked by the government to pay a cent.

However, in an interview with Concord Times at his State House office, Abdulai Bayraytay said: “The 52 houses being constructed by our local companies will not be free. Don’t’ forget that it is a donation given to the government. In other countries abroad, people pay for affordable houses according to their income.”

He stated that when the houses would have been completed and handed over to the government, a policy will be developed to determine who is qualified to occupant them and how much they will pay.

Also, he disclosed that 29 communities along riverine areas have been identified as disaster communities, adding that the government is finding ways of relocating them to safer communities.

The three indigenous construction companies had promised to construct the 52 houses for victims within forty-five days, but the deadline set by the companies has elapsed with construction work still ongoing at Mile 6.

But Mr. Bayraytay, who is a member of the Communication Team of the twin disaster, attributed the delay to the fact that the companies are also constructing an orphanage, a clinic and a community centre in addition to the 52 self-contained houses.

“The last time I paid a visit to the construction site, they were up to roof level but there are challenges because they also want to construct a community centre, clinic and water system. Until they hand it over to us, we have nothing to say,” he said.

With regards the status of victims living in makeshift camps, the presidential spokesman maintained that majority of them have left the camps on their volition having found alternative place to live.

He explained that consent forms were developed and that victims living inside the camps were informed that if they chose to leave the camps voluntarily, they would be provided with the sum of Le2, 175,000 to help them secure a place.

“As I speak to you, over 95% of those in the camps have already left voluntarily to find a place on their own. We never forced them to live the camps,” he said.