February 20, 2015 By Jariatu Bangura
The rehabilitation of ramshackle toilet facilities within Parliament is still underway despite President Ernest Bai Koroma reportedly instructing the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Kaifala Marah, on February 2 to immediately disburse funds totaling Le280,019,250 to the Ministry of Works, Housing and Infrastructure to rehabilitate the facilities.
It could be recalled that on the State Opening of Parliament in December 2013, President Koroma, prior to his address, visited toilet facilities within Parliament, which were in a dilapidating condition, unfit for honourable members of parliament. The President subsequently met with the leadership of the House and promised to order the disbursement of the necessary funds for work to commence on the facilities.
According to the Clerk of Parliament, Hon. Ibrahim Sesay, only Le89,370,000 had been disbursed, leaving a deficit of Le134,645,400, as Seaside Construction Company are about to commence work.
Speaker of Parliament Hon. Sheku B.B. Dumbuya recalled that lawmakers from both parties had complained about the status of the toilets.
Acting Minister of Works, Housing and Infrastructure, Abdul Barbah Barrie, told Parliament the project with the construction company was signed on February 17, 2014 for the amount stated by the Clerk of Parliament, and for which 30% of payment should have been made before the commencement of the work, but was delayed until Parliament intervened.
He said most of the rehabilitation work has been completed, although payment was still outstanding to the contractor, and as a result work was done in slow pace. He therefore appealed to lawmakers for little more time for the completion of the work.
However, Minority Leader, Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai, noted that the issue should have been discussed in camera as there were more pressing issues of concern that need deliberation.
She said toilet facilities were not enough for MPs, staff and visitors, while the budget of Le280m for the rehabilitation of the facilities would not buy standard and durable materials, and she queried: “Who will monitor or supervise the rehabilitation project in order for them to do quality work?”
She expressed hope that the next time the acting Works Minister is summoned to Parliament he would provide concrete answers.