NOVEMBER 26, 2014 By Mohamed Massaquoi from Kenema
District Coordinator of the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) in Kenema has disclosed that members of the Ebola burial team would be sacked and replaced by a new team.
Members of the team went on strike on Monday (24 November) displaying dead bodies along the corridors and the front gate of the Kenema government hospital as they demanded backlog payment of hazard allowances due them.
Alhaji Abdul Wahab told Concord Times in an exclusive interview that they are committed to giving victims of the Ebola outbreak dignified burial, and that the action of irate members of the burial team was unfortunate.
“We are quite aware that some payments should be made to some members of the burial team. The delay is as a result of the transfer of payments from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to the NERC,” he said. “We have been able to take the necessarily steps to ensure that they are paid immediately, but a good number of our partners are concerned that their actions were unacceptable and therefore they must be sacked.”
He added that: “The Red Cross burial team is doing extremely well. It is only those who are on government payroll that performed in such manner. That is the reason we are taking such action against them.”
Chief Executive Officer of NERC, Retired Major Palo Conteh told Radio Democracy FM 98.1 that the striking workers would be paid their backlogs and replaced, while he claimed their action was “politically motivated”.
Amara Kamara, a resident of Kenema, which is a stronghold of the opposition, said that though the action of the aggrieved burial team members was unacceptable, the NERC should rethink their decision.
“Most of these workers can no longer engage in social activities because they are grossly discriminated against by members of the public simply because they are part of the burial team. Taking such action [sacking] against them will not be in the best interest of justice,” he opined. “They sacrificed themselves during the highest point of Ebola when most people were running away, this is the time they should reap the benefit. After all it is the government that owed them.”