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Hastings Treatment Center workers protest for allowance

- Coordinator accused of inhuman treatment

January 14, 2015 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Nurses and other support staff at the Hastings Ebola Treatment Center in the outskirts of Freetown Saturday (10 January) staged a “peaceful protest” demanding their six-week backlog of hazard allowance or they will withhold their services.

The disgruntled workers threatened to disrupt the discharge of twenty-nine (29) Ebola survivors from the center but were pacified by the Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Ms. Madina Rahman, who pleaded with them to exercise patience and promised that their issue will be resolved.

Even though Abdul Wurie – who supervises payment of hazard allowances at the National Ebola Response Center (NERC) – had told a cross-section of journalists that the workers had received their allowances up to the first two weeks of December 2014, according to the list presented to them by the Center Coordinator, the protesters stressed that over 100 of them are yet to receive their allowance since December 2014, with some alleging that their names are no longer in the NERC list.

The workers also accused the Center Coordinator, Dr. Santigie Sesay, of inhuman treatment and playing games with them by allegedly removing some of their names and replacing them with people who do not work at the center.

According to the workers, Dr. Sesay referred to them as “market women” and also instructed the driver of the bus that usually transports them to their respective homes after work not to move, claiming that there was no fuel.

One of the disgruntled workers, Nurse Hannah Finda Sao Korwah, told this reporter that she has not received her hazard allowance for almost seven weeks.

“The most frustrating thing for me now is that when I went to the NERC office on Thursday (January 8), I found out that my name had been deleted from the list, which was not the case. When I enquired why, I was told to discuss the matter with my Center Coordinator. Unfortunately for some of us, when we put the question to the Coordinator this morning (Saturday), he refused to comment and threatened to get rid of us that are protesting peaceful (sic),” she said in tears, adding that she has already been disowned by her family because of her decision to work at the center.

When contacted by journalists to comment on the allegations levelled against him, Dr. Santigie Sesay refused to comment, saying: “I am not going to say anything. You can go and write whatever you want.”

Also, while addressing the disgruntled workers, Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Ms. Madina Rahman, in an aggressive mood, questioned why the workers decided to talk to journalists, saying: “Why did you talk to journalists? They cannot in anyway help you solve your problem.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Sesay yesterday told Concord Times that some of the aggrieved health workers are yet to resume duty as they await NERC to sort out their payment claim.

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