March 3, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
Some workers of STEG International Services, a Tunisia-based electricity company, were victims of harassment, intimidation and brutalisation by some ill-motivated members of Kogbo community at Ogoo Farm, west of Freetown, yesterday morning.
STEG International Services had been contracted by the Ministry of Energy to implement an 18-month project – rehabilitation and extension of medium and low voltage distribution network in the Western Area – funded by the Islamic Development Bank.
But the workers have began facing stiff resistance in some communities as members are of the view that STEG should not install wooden poles on their lands, which could undermine the project completion date, slated for 2017.
According to Sallieu Kamara, one of the workers who was beaten and wounded at Kogbo community, they have faced stiff resistance from youth of the community in the past few days.
“The youth are led by one Joseph Foday Yambasu, who has been threatening to beat us if we install wooden poles on his land. He first ordered his boys to throw away our working tools,” he explained, adding that the wooden pole he was about to install before youths pounced on him was one metre away from Yambasu’s fence.
“While we were digging the hole to install the pole, he took out a knife and stabbed me on my arm,” said Kamara, who alerted his boss about the attack, before a report was made at the Adonkia Police Station.
Alhaji Konneh, a caretaker of a house at Kogbo community, said he sustained wounds when he tried to stop Foday Yambasu from beating the STEG worker.
“I was even bitten by this same man who was so brutal to the STEG workers. These workers are working tirelessly to improve on the electricity supply to our community,” he told this reporter.
The Local Unit Commander (LUC) of the Adonkia Police Division, Supt. Ambrose Sovula, told our reporter that STEG workers should be protected from harassment and violence from some community people.
He described the incident as “unfortunate” and added “We have arrested the perpetrator and others that were named in the incidents.” He noted that the Police have taken statements from complainants as well as the perpetrators, adding that they would charge the matter to court.
Head of STEG International Services in West Africa, Alhaji Mohamed Lamin Tarawally, said his workers have persistently come under attack from local residents whenever they attempt to dig holes and install wooden poles.
“Some people are with the conviction that since they are the owners of the lands, we should not install poles there. Sometimes when we dig holes to install poles, they will cover those holes and this slow down our operations, especially when we are working to meet completion date,” he said.