November 15, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
Family liaison officer of Concern Worldwide, Amadu Turay, has in an exclusive interview with Concord Times claimed that negligence on the part of officials of the Western Area Rural District Council (WARDC) to construct a perimeter fence around the Ebola cemetery at Pa Loko in the Western Area Rural District would create an avenue for thieves to remove plaques bearing the inscriptions of Ebola victims.
It could be recalled that the Ebola cemetery at Waterloo was used to burry 10,040 dead bodies from October 2014 to February 2016. The cemetery was managed by Concern Worldwide, a non-governmental organization that was paying grave diggers and a family liaison officer, who helps family members to identify tombs of their relatives.
According to Amadu Turay, thieves have carted away the corrugated iron sheets (zinc) used to roof the only toilet facility meant for visitors, a 2,000 litre Milla tank, adding that they have also destroyed and carted away all materials at the pavilion, where visitors used to sit.
He said due to the erosion that occurred at the cemetery, the mud from the tombs of Ebola victims were washed away, with the inscriptions gradually disappearing.
“The reason for the constant theft of these items is that there are no security personnel to guard this very important cemetery. Since Concern Worldwide handed over the cemetery to government, the Waterloo Council has not employed a single person to take care of it. If the authorities continue to neglect this cemetery, it may lose its monumental value in the not-too-distant future,” he said.
He suggested that the first security for the cemetery was to construct a perimeter fence that would prevent intruders, adding that the temporal fence that was constructed around the cemetery has been destroyed.
However, Chairman of the Western Area Rural District Council (WARDC), Alhassan Cole, said the council wanted to construct a perimeter fence around the cemetery, but were constrained in terms of funds.
“Indeed Concern Worldwide handed over that cemetery to the council but we were having problems of taking ownership. This was because two families-the Thomas and King have come up with document showing that they owned the cemetery land. So, we were trying to solve that matter before we could take action,” he said.