By Alusine Sesay
Minister of Water Resources, Momodu Maligie, last Friday confirmed the acting Director General of Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO) as the substantive Director General of the entity.
The new Director General, Samuel Bangura, was confirmed in the presence of staff of the public water supplier, members of the Parliamentary Committee on Water and Sanitation, and the media.
While delivering his confirmation, Mr. Maligie noted that the new DG has performed excellently by ensuring that all stalled projects at SALWACO were completed, and that his confirmation was a significant milestone in the history of the country.
According to the minister, “There were lots of stalemates in the implementation of projects at SALWACO and the problem was purely based on poor leadership. There was a complete loss of confidence in donor partners to continue the funding of projects at the entity and staff morale was also low.” He is therefore optimistic that the appointment of Mr. Bangura was a move in the right direction because he has resuscitated all stalled projects at SALWACO.
He said the secret behind the remarkable success story of the new Director General is his participatory leadership style, such as availing himself at project sites and putting in place effective monitoring mechanisms.
In his acceptance speech, Bangura noted: “In June 2013, the dynamic Hon. Minister of Water Resources availed me the opportunity and privilege to serve my country in a very challenging capacity by appointing me acting Director General of the Sierra Leone Water Company.”
He said managing SALWACO was quite challenging at the time he was appointed to act as DG because the President had set a very high target for the water sector, and followed that up by creating, for the first time, a Water Resources Ministry to ensure the provision of clean water supply to at least 75% of the population of Sierra Leone.
Since its establishment, he said SALWACO had been fraught with many challenges, both technical and financial, thus rendering it financially unviable and operationally dysfunctional.
“The company’s corporate image was blurred with underperformance of its statutory mandate. SALWACO had many unfinished projects and the public had no time to wait and waste. My greatest courage in accepting the job of acting Director General was anchored on the fact I had worked as senior staff of SALWACO for a period of three years and more,” he said.
The newly confirmed DG said he has a warm working relationship with his colleagues in the senior management and the rank and file of the institution, and that he knew there were competent workers at SALWACO whose expertise he could easily harness.
“I knew that the cardinal problem then was leadership, the ability to provide the right direction for the institution,” he noted, adding that he robustly monitored the inherited project, worked with contractors and beneficiary communities and within months, they were able to complete all projects he had inherited from his predecessor, much to the admiration of “our critical stakeholders, including the civil society and the beneficiary communities”.
He cited the rehabilitation of Mile 91 and Yonibana water supply systems, plus the rehabilitation of Pujehun water supply system, as few of his achievements.
Meanwhile, amidst the euphoria, he cited the stalemate in the amendment of the SALWACO Act, 2001; fast track of the finalization of the institutional reform plan; and the poor incentives for staff, as some of the challenges facing the entity.