ADB FUNDS HANDICAPPED CENTRE…Over Le 300 million project

Built in a very specialized way for the physically challenged. This included the blind, deformed and other category of persons with disability as beneficiaries of the project. The location of the project is on Kingharman Road opposite the Traffic Light commenced in 2004 under the administration of Alhaji Kanja Sesay of the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) during the SLPP Government of ex-President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.

The purpose of the building that is to be called a Community Centre for the Handicapped in the Western Area is to serve the needs of the Handicapped in their own right as a community.

The project according to official sources at NaSCA was funded by both the Sierra Leone Government and the African Development Bank (ADB) and worth over Three Hundred Million Leones. NaCSA at the time saw the need to establish a Community Centre for the Handicapped, according to Alhaji Kanga Sesay when this medium contacted him to ascertain the ownership of the building as Mr. James Taiwo Cullen of 96.2FM had since laid claims of ownership on the building.

The implementing partner of the project at the time was Binty-Med and when this paper contacted a representative of the company recently to explain his role, he said that he was contracted by NaSCA to put up a specialized building that will be easily accessible by the physically challenged as is done in developed countries “If you take a look at the structure both from the front and back view you will notice that the entrance can accommodate wheelchair riders and even those using clutches”  Mr.Med Explains.

The issue relating to this building meant for the Handicapped has sparked conflict among Philip Neville, David Tam-Baryoh, Sylvia Blyden and James Taiwo Cullen of 96.2 FM. For the past days beginning last Friday James Taiwo Cullen has been using his medium to lash out at these individuals calling them all sorts of names, and last Saturday David Tam –Baryoh responded through his monologue programme where he explained the cause of the conflict among the media practitioners.

He told listeners that for the past years, himself and Philip Neville have been advising Mr. James Taiwo Cullen to grant access to his colleagues who are also handicapped and citizens of this country to the building, but James Taiwo Cullen has opposed the idea vigorously and has viewed them as enemies.

The Community Centre for the Handicapped at Kingharman Road has five rooms and a big hall designed for meetings and related gatherings and suitable for any purpose. James Taiwo Cullen is reportedly using two rooms for his 96.2 FM radio while the remaining rooms are accessible only to his employees who are not physically challenged or belonging to the community.

In a letter dated 14th April, 2009, Alhaji Kanja Sesay’s successor in the person of Mr. Saidu Conton explained that the Managing Director of 96.2 FM rented the building to a Radio Station known as Voice of Freetown for Twenty Five Million Leones (Le25, 000.000/00) for a period of five years. The station, investigation reveals has never seen the light of day since it was alleged that the Independent Media Commission has granted a license to the station to operate in the country, Western part of Freetown.”Surprisingly, we have received reports alleging that the Managing Director of VOH 96.2. FM has rented out the building to another institution by the name of Voice of Freetown for Le25,000,000 (Twenty Five Million Leones) for five (5) years, we would like to reiterate through your office that the basis for funding the above sub-project as a facility for the common benefit of the Handicapped still holds and has not changed. Your office would be accordingly informed when the facility is completed and ready for handing over” Mr. Sesay wrote to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Communication.

Further, the current NaSCA boss stressed as follows “We are requesting that the Ministry of Information and Communication oversees the judicious use of this facility and ensure that one small group of individuals does not try to claim ownership of the facility which is meant to benefit the Handicapped Community as a whole”

Sadly, a small group headed by Mr. James Taiwo Cullen has been benefiting from the project, while the larger Community of the Handicapped Group has been left to sleep on the streets of Freetown.

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