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MAKENI EMBRACES OPEN GOVT. INITIATIVE

The Open Government Initiative has organized a one day consultative conference with media partners and civil society representatives in Makeni city council .The purpose of the meeting was to review past activities and draw up recommendations for the development of the organization. The meeting also provided a forum where focal persons in the twelve districts produced reports on certain critical issues affecting the people in the country.

The Regional Coordinator for the Eastern Province Titus Massalay spoke about the potential rift between the people and management of the Gola Forest in Malema chiefdom Kenema district. He said the people were never accorded the opportunity to examine the 5 year contractual agreement. He said the Gola Forest covers seven chiefdoms in the Kenema district ,but management of the Gola Forest do not live up to it corporate social responsibility. He said the roads leading to the communities are inaccessible and crops of the people have been destroyed by animals. He spoke about the$ 10.000 supposedly provided by management in the form of a project which was the construction of a guest house. Massalay said the guest house is substandard and the people are not satisfied with the Forest Development Committee. He said the contractual agreement should be clear, unambiguous and in the interest of the people .He spoke about what he referred to as carbon sales which is suppose to benefit the people but unfortunately they are cheated. In another development the Regional Coordinator East also spoke about his meeting with the contractor of the Kailahun –Pujehun road .He said the construction company   ISU stated that the road around Mano Junction is rocky and steep covering 5 miles .He said the company also complained about the pilfering of oil and cables valued at 56 Million Leones. He said the situation has led to a drastic overhaul of the security situation in the company. It was also discovered that one of the workers had his fingers chopped off by a boulder machine without any insurance coverage or compensation.

The Regional Coordinator said the blasting in Kono carried by Koidu Holdings is having impact on hypertensive patients leading to the death of one person. He also mentioned about the poor road network which is hampering development in the region. He also spoke about the huge pile of suspects that have been in detention for two to three years without trial.

The Regional Coordinator South Prince Kallon spoke about the cholera outbreak in Moyamba .He said 362 cases were reported. According to the District Health Management Team six people died from cholera .He said 72 cases were reported in Gendema leading to 2 casualties including a nine months old baby. However he said the situation is now under control after the intervention of the Pujehun District Council and other stake holders in the health delivery system. He also said that the police in Pujehun is without a vehicle and they are understaffed which is seriously affecting the operations of the police in Pujehun.He also spoke about the status of the rehabilitation of the jetty in Bonthe.He also said that reports from Moyamba indicate that 37 people clandestinely sneaked into the town to register, but the police are investigating the issue. He also said that fire gutted down houses in Bonthe leading to the displacement of civilians’ .Mr. Kallon stated that Bo- Yele road is very bad and it has impact on the cost of essential commodities in Bonthe district.

The Regional Coordinator for Nothern Province Abdul Charles Mansaray spoke about the potential rift at the border areas between Bramaya and Masongbala Chiefdoms in Kambia district .He said one person was abducted because of the dispute .He called on the authorities to carry out a proper demarcation of the areas to prevent a potential rift in Kambia. He also spoke about the problem between the land owners and youths with regards the agreement with Cape Lambert that is operating in the Kambia district. Reports indicate that Cape Lambert want to trick the people by underpaying for the land at Bramaya chiefdom. He also spoke about the outbreak of cholera in Kambia district which he referred to as a perennial problem. He expressed gratitude to the authorities for their timely intervention in saving the lives of the people. He said the mining companies are declaring workers redundant without any form of compensation. He said the workers found it extremely difficult to register but due to persistent pressure from the media and civil society they have been allowed to register for the elections.

 He also mentioned the difficulties encountered by junior workers at African Minerals because of inadequate transportation facilities to and from work. Mr Charles mentioned about the indiscriminate burning in the villages which has led to the burning of houses .He said cattle herders are also migrating to get food for their cattle and they have received complaints about destruction of plants .On the Free Health Care, he said there are inadequate supply of drugs .He went on to talk about the growing number of sexual and gender based violence cases and the delay in the prosecution of offenders. Speaking about Kabala, the Regional Coordinator said parents are forcing their kids to engage in mining activities and teachers are not teaching on Fridays .He said the roads in Kabala are inaccessible and the people had to walk long distances to register for the elections .He said the old and physically challenged especially in Neya and Dieng chiefdoms could not register because of the difficult terrain.

The Regional Coordinator said the facilitation between Members of parliament, Councilors’ and their constituents by OGI is taking a positive impact on the people. He said there are frequent cases of accidents in the railway but the people are now being educated on the use of the railway .At the end of the meeting  recommendations were drawn up for the next quarter

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