March 31, 2021
*Port Loko District, 26 March, 2021* -The Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), Melrose Karminty, has commissioned the Participatory Budgeting Project facilities in Port Loko.
The project included rehabilitation of five schools, provision of an agricultural centre complete with a well, toilet facilities, a rice milling machine and the provision of tools and vehicle for solid waste management.
It could be recalled that in 2017, the Japanese Government through the World Bank provided funding to respond to the Post- Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) needs at local level in Sierra Leone by building Community resilience through EVD sensitization efforts and social mobilization activities in the districts most affected by the disease. As one of the districts that was hardly hit by the EVD, Port Loko District Council was given USD 250,000 to undertake developmental projects according to the needs of its communities.
In her keynote address, Madam Melrose Karminty, was quick to apologize on behalf of her boss (Minister Tamba J.T. Lamina)who she said was unavoidably absent because of other important state function. She stated that the bedrock of the project was decentralization and local governance. She added that the former provides greater voice, empowerment and opportunity to influence decision affecting communities, whilst the latter is an instrument for transforming conflicts and building peace.
“The project that we are here to commission is in line with President Bio’s flagship program of Human Capital Development, especially the Free Quality Education. This project is aimed at involving citizens in the decision making process of the Local Councils thereby aligning service delivery to the priorities of communities,” she explained. She maintained that as a Ministry, they provided technical inputs into the implementation of the project together with the required monitoring to ensure its success.
She entreated the community to take full ownership of the facilities and put mechanisms in place to protect them, adding that the Ministry would be paying unannounced monitoring visits to the facilities in order to ascertain that they are used in accordance with the purpose for which they were built.
She thanked the Japanese Government and the World Bank for funding the project and for rendering other supports to the Sierra Leone Government.
The Team Lead for the Project Fudiciary Management Unit (PFMU), Alpha I. Sesay, said the project, which aims to strengthen service delivery in the post Ebola context, was piloted in two Local Councils most affected by the EVD, including the Freetown City Council ( FCC) and Port Loko District Council.
“The intervention aimed to empower citizens at ward and community levels to identify and develop their preferred projects to be part of the budget of the two local councils for the year 2020. Projects selection were strictly based on vote from the community people. Projects with the highest number of votes were prioritized for implementation by Local Councils,” he highlighted.
The Chairman of the Port Loko District Council, Ibrahim Santigie Bangura, admitted that since he was employed at the council in 2008, the Participatory Budgeting Project is the fastest and toughest project that the council has implemented, adding that the said project was completed in less than four months.
“I know that it’s unbelievable to say the whole project was completed in less than four months, but that’s the truth. The secret behind that is hard work and dedication. It’s interesting to know that at the time of its implementation, the entire staff of my council were transformed into monitors, who were visiting the construction sites on everyday basis,” he said.
Chairman Bangura expressed appreciation on behalf of the people of Port Loko District to President Bio through the MLGRD for choosing his council amongst the 22 local councils across the country to implement such Human Capital Development projects.
Adama Turay, a class six pupil of the Sierra Leone Muslim Brotherhood in Gbane Bana village, said with delight that before now, their school was in deployable condition with inadequate classroom furniture, toilet facilities, and access to water.
“Our school has been transformed into a brand new school with all facilities that a school should have. Our friends who were going to other schools are now yearning to come here,” she said in a jubilant mood.
The program was climaxed with site visitation and cutting of tape by the Deputy Minister Melrose Karminty.
Other dignitaries present were the Manager of Decentralization Secretariat, John Brima, councillors of Port Loko District Council, Regent Chiefs, amongst others.