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 Kuntaur disaster committee under fire
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Posted - 07 Jun 2018 :  13:28:39  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Kuntaur disaster committee under fire for using flood victims’ money

The Point: Thursday, June 07, 2018

Victims that were hard hit by flashfloods at Kuntaur village in the Niani District of the Central River Region (CRR) in August 2017 are calling on the government to set up a panel to investigate the village’s disaster committee members for allegedly spending the victims’ money for non-intended purpose.

It’s alleged that D150,000 was withdrawn by disaster committee of the village to fence the community’s Youth Centre, with victims complaining the move as misguided purpose.

The construction and fencing of the Youth Centre was a project on its own, funded by the Community Infrastructure Livelihood Improving Project (CILIP), which was awarded to the National Assembly Member for Niani District Hon. Alhagie Sillah, according to the victims.

The Point’s senior investigative reporter, Momodou Jawo, on Monday travelled to Kuntaur to investigate the matter in which he spoke with the people familiar with the matter.

Alfusainey Ceesay, one of the flood victims, who was hardly hit by the flood in 2017 said more than 1000 bags of cements were sent to the village for the victims but was not fairly distributed.

“The village disaster committee members were the people stealing the items donated. I have evidence of some committee members, who were stealing the items,” he said.

According to him, he was only given 50 bags of cement with D5000.

“I cannot finish the construction of my house. I keep on appealing to friends and family members that are in the Diaspora to help me finish my house.”

He expressed fear that the community might be hit by another flood in the coming rainy season. “We want the government to investigate the matter because they misused the funds and we are not consulted as to how they were using the funds.”

He disclosed that he had 10 people living in his compound. However, because of the difficulty in feeding, he had to send some of his kids to family members and friends within the village and also in the Greater Banjul Area (GBA) to offload the burden of feeding.

He queried that a part of the relief fund meant to support the victims was spent on the village Youth Centre, with some bags of cement also given out for the village mosque and church respectively.

The head of Cheikh Anthony Church of Kuntaur, Pierre Ceesay confirmed that his church had received 19 bags of cement with a cash amount of D5000, maintaining that the said church was not hit by the 2017 flood.

“The church was in a good condition and even the mosque. The money and cement were meant for people that were seriously hit by the floods. However, when they started distributing the cement for the mosque, we felt it was necessary for the church also to have its share.”

Polina Faye, another flood victim, said she had returned the money, oil and rice given to her. “I was only given D300 and 25kg of rice while other compounds were given D1000, three bags of rice and oil. They distributed the items based on discrimination, saying that I don’t have kids.”

She noted that some of the committee members each received full bag of sugar. “They said they are the committee members and that they are going to share it like that.”

One disaster committee member who spoke to our reporter on the condition of anonymity, said he personally made it clear to the chairman of the disaster committee, who is also the National Assembly Member for Niani District that the money should not have been spent on anything apart from supporting the flood victims.

“I was never a signatory to the account that they opened at the bank and I was never consulted when they were withdrawing the money from the bank, because I was sidelined. However, there were reports that some items were given to certain communities in the district in respect of politics.”

Yai Joof, assistance secretary to the disaster committee, acknowledged that she was part of the people that deposited the money at the GTBank Farafenni branch. “However, after depositing the money to date, I don’t know how the money was spent.”

“Notwithstanding, there was a meeting organised at the village market and the committee informed everyone that they withdrew D150,000 from the money kept in the Bank for fencing the Youth Centre. I have no idea as to how the remaining money was spent,” she told our reporter.

The disaster committee’s secretary general, Kebba Conteh, declined to comment, saying that he must get directives from the chairman, who is also the National Assembly Member for the area. “If I speak to you now, it means I am putting the horse before the cart. If Hon. Sillah gives me the go ahead, I will comment on anything with regard to whether there was mismanagement or not.”

The disaster management coordinator for CRR, Babucarr Fofana, was also contacted for comment. He said that he remembered the items donated by Modou Turo Darboe, the chief patron of Vision Development Foundation (VDF) through the NDMA Regional Office in CRR, noting those items were distributed accordingly.

He acknowledged hearing news of other philanthropists and organisations donating to flood victims in either cash or kind, but said he had no idea as to how they were distributed.

“However, I did not know how it went because I was not consulted and I did not ask too. The village disaster committee was the one responsible of everything entirely.”

When contacted, Hon. Alagie Sillah, the lawmaker for Niani, said as far as he is concerned, the money was spent for its purpose.

He said that the money was not managed by him, adding that it was managed by the Village Development Committee (VDC) members of Kuntaur.

The regional governor for CRR, Sulayman Barry, said he was informed about the withdrawal of the said D150,000 for the renovation of the Youth Centre. “I was informed that VDC and the committee have agreed to renovate the Youth Centre so that it could become functional and be able to generate revenue for them. The money was removed by them.”

He said he was not aware of the bags of cement given to the church and that of the mosque. “I am not aware as to how they distributed it because sometimes philanthropists go directly to them. The remaining money supposed to be at the bank,” he said.

Author: Momodou Jawo just back from Kuntaur

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone


11528 Posts

Posted - 18 Jun 2018 :  13:31:24  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Niani lawmaker reacts to Kuntaur flood victims’ financial saga

The Point: Monday, June 18, 2018

Honourable Alhagie Sillah, the National Assembly Member for Niani District, Central River Region, north has reacted to the ongoing financial saga involving the village disaster committee of Kuntaur after they had dip their hands in a proverbial jar by spending half of the victims’ money for a different purpose.

The committee was alleged to have used D150, 000 in renovating the village Youth Centre – money meant for disaster victims after the flashfloods that hit the community back in 2017.

Hon. Sillah explained that the Village Development Committee (VDC) and others have agreed to withdraw the said money saved at the bank to renovate the Youth Centre so as to generate more income for the village.

“The Youth Centre was awarded to me in 2014 when I retired from the government and opened my own enterprise before I become a parliamentarian. In fact, I can tell you that I spent more than the amount given to me as contract for the Youth Centre.”

The Kuntaur community, he said, had agreed and wrote a request for the renovation of the Youth Centre. “I later informed the regional governor about it. The remaining money that was saved at the GTBank is still there,” he confirmed.

Hon. Sallah, who is the chairman of the committee further disclosed that D30, 000 was given to Kuntaur by the leader of The Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) Mamma Kandeh. According to him, that money was spent for its intended purpose.

He said the D30, 000 was given to one Maimuna Barry and later handed over to Kebba Sabally for safe keeping.

This money, he added, was meant to buy stationery for children among other learning materials. “We bought the books and we still have receipt for it and it was distributed among the school children.”

He explained that the total amount of money donated to flood victims was D310, 000 and was saved at the GTBank in Farafenni. He added that most of the community members wanted the money to be distributed, but as chairman, he refused.

“I said over my dead body the money will not be distributed; for the fact that it come for a purpose.”

The lady councilor of Kuntaur, Maimuna Barry, said she was the person that received the D30, 000 donated by Mamma Kandeh on behalf of the victims.

“I was given the privilege to speak when the GDC leader donated the rice and the cash amount of the money. I told Kandeh that students have lost their uniforms, books, and shoes among other learning materials during the flooding.”

The lady councilor further explained that after the meeting, Mr. Kandeh gave her D30, 000 in the presence of Hon. Sillah and others and told her that the money must be spent in buying books and learning materials for students.

“When I received the money from Kandeh, I was told to hand it over to disaster committee members. Therefore, I decided to hand over the money to one Kebba Sabally who was a former ward councilor. Since I handed over the money to him I cannot tell you as how it was spent.”

Mrs. Barry explained that during the first meeting organised by the disaster committee members of which she attended, she was told by the committee that she was not part of the committee and that she could not attend the meeting.

“Since then, I have not seen them buying books and none of my children has ever informed me that they have books distributed at the school.

“There was a time I asked about that money and I was informed by one of the committee members that some people have been identified to travel to Banjul to meet Hon. Sillah in order for them to buy the books. Since then, I do not know whether they bought the books or not because I did not ask too.”

Amadou Gaye, another flood victim, said the money that they spent on the Youth Centre should have not been spent on that, saying the centre was a project of its own, with more than D700, 000 and was awarded to Hon. Sillah.

Author: Momodou Jawo

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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