May 23, 2019
By Joseph S. Margai
Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) have on Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019, engaged officials of the Port Loko District Council (PLDC) in a bid to explain some of the challenges they were faced with in the district and how they could subsequently proffer solutions to those problems.
The engagement, which took place at the council hall in Port Loko, was referred to as a successful one.
On Saturday, 18th May, 2019, officials of PLDC donated wheelchairs and crutches to PWDs in Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom, Port Loko district. This gesture, among many others, has made PWDs to breathe a sigh of relief.
Highlighting their challenges, Abdul Kamara, Chairman of the Sierra Leone Union on Disability Issues (SLUDI), said they decided to engage the council so as to present their newly elected executive to its officials and seek redress to their numerous challenges.
“We want an office space for our executive members. We have also requested a disability desk from council so as to enable us advocate for our members. Similarly, each disable organisation must have a registered certificate, and most of those with registered certificates, have expired. We want the certificates to be renewed,” he said.
Addressing the PWDs, Chief Administrator of PLDC, Raman Tom Farmar, said two key issues were raised by the PWDs, citing office space and regularisation of their registration certificates.
“We will renew all your certificates free of cost. Those that do not have registered certificates should be given free of cost. This is a way to strengthen the PWDs,” he said.
He said as a council, it’s their responsibility to ensure that district organisations of PWDs are being supported.
He noted that the council has constructed the district social welfare office, stating that that office should be able to host SLUDI executive members.
“SLUDI should get an office space in Port Loko city and social welfare office should be able to host them. When they have an office space here we would be able to support them in terms of programs and projects, and also provide furniture and other stationeries,” he said.
He said if there would have been an additional space at PLDC, it would have been easy to allocate an office space to SLUDI’s executive.
“Disability is a key component of the ministry of social welfare, which is one of the devolved functions to council. We will ensure that PWDs are encouraged and supported at all times,” he said.
Foday S. Bangura, Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs’ Social Service Officer (SSO), said SLUDI has made a maiden visit to his office, noting that he was consented to issue free certificates to disable organisations.
He recalled that his ministry had done the disability policy which addresses challenges that PWDs were facing.
He said some of the things in the policy include free education and health care services.
He, however, said many institutions are yet to adhere to what were included in the policy, noting that it is now his ministry’s responsibility to ensure that people and institutions are aware of it.
Nyuma Maningo, PLDC’s Development and Planning Officer, said council takes the issues of PWDs very serious and they would work closely with the social welfare ministry to address some of the challenges.
Head of PLDC’s Human Resource, Gibril Kalokoh, said they would always take issues of disability seriously.
“Everyone is a potential candidate of disability. We should ensure that the issues they have highlighted would be solved,” he said.