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As Le16bn unaccounted for…

Parliament urges MDAs to submit 5 year utility rate

June 8, 2016 By Jariatu S. Bangura

As water crisis continues to bedevil many communities in the Western Area, Members of Parliament have urged all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to submit a five year utility rate to both the parliamentary committees on Finance and Transparency, and Accountability, within two weeks.

Speaking during the motion for the adoption of a report produced by the Committee on Water Resources on the Freetown water crisis and presentation by Guma Valley Water Company on encroachment on water catchment areas in the Western Area, Hon. Claude D.M. Kamanda said it was sad that such a colossal amount could not be accounted for by MDAs.

“It is very sad to hear that MDAs, including Parliament, have to pay such an amount to Guma Valley. We have seen and heard MDAs stating that they have to pay so and so amount during the sub-appropriation session every year. Thanks to the chairman and members of the Water Resources Committee for bringing it to our notice that all they have said were not true. I want to assure you that they will bring in all those reports to both the committee on Finance and Transparency and Accountability Committee. I urge all MDAs to submit all their evidence of payment for utility rate from the year 2011 to 2015 within two weeks,” he said.

Hon. Kamanda urged his colleagues that they should implement recommendations made by the committee to demolish all structures erected in all water catchment areas without looking back.

 Earlier, chairman of the Water Resources Committee, Hon. Sualiho M. Koroma, noted that considering the importance of the water sector and the nature of both human and environmental factors to sustain same, they recommended that the president should investigate and demarcate all encroachment areas, while Parliament should support the work of the committee for the approval of the report.

He said the Ministry of Lands should not sign any survey plans for areas close to Guma water sources, and that all on-going constructions should be stopped immediately.

“The government should also step up protection of the Western Area forest reserved and such immediate necessary actions should include patrol of the forest reserve by security forces (activating MAC-P) in order to prevent any further destruction to the catchments,” he urged.

He stated that water crisis in most communities have a very negative effect mainly on women and children and claimed that it had resulted to high teenage pregnancy.

“This perennial water problem brought the Guma management under serious condemnation and criticism by some civil society groups and the general public. Another important short-term objective is to fully recover unpaid bills by ministries, departments and agencies,” he said.

Hon. Komba Koedoyoma said despite many laws enacted by lawmakers, lack of effective implementation was the bane in the country, noting that the main culprits are in the Ministry of Lands and Works, as they sign land agreements and issue building permits to people who construct houses in the water catchment areas.

“The attitude of Sierra Leoneans should change from that of doing things free of charge because that is affecting our country when certain developments are to be undertaken. One problem that I observed is that we have fine laws in our books but the applications of those laws are yet to be met. Some twenty years ago, we have been warned that Sierra Leone is number three country that is prone to disaster and climate change but we did not believe it and now it is here,’’ said the opposition lawmaker.

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