After the devastating twin tragic mudslide and flood disaster in Sierra Leone in August, the victims have been left miserably frustrated and disappointed as a result of the failure of the government to honour her promise and provide an “exit package” for the affected citizens.
Worse still, while the victims and other concerned Sierra Leoneans are bitterly complaining about the government’s unacceptable behaviour, the Director of Disaster Management at the Office of National Security, John Rogers, who is directly responsible for the facilitation of the promised “exit package” – which includes, food and non-food items, such as comprehensive cash transfers and transportation support to aid victims’ relocation to new accommodation – seems to have kept silence on the issue.
What makes John Rogers’ silence very surprising, disturbing, and some would insist, annoying, is the fact that, apart from the money budgeted by the government to cater for the “exit package” for the victims, millions of dollars have been raised by the international organisations, institutions, and even good-hearted individuals to support the victims of the disasters. According to the Office of National Security (ONS) in Freetown, a total sum of Le6.5bn in cash and US$4.5 million has been received as donations from the international and local organisations, and private individuals, aimed at helping victims of the disaster. Yet, the government has not clearly explained to the angry Sierra Leoneans where these millions are or what they are used for. Recently more money has been donated by foreign organisations for the humanitarian assistance for the mudslide and flood disaster victims. Do Sierra Leoneans have every right to demand accountability? They surely do.
After the temporary shelters at Old School and Juba Barracks was closed down on November 15, victims of the disasters had hoped to start a new life from the promised “exit package,” including money they would receive from the government. But Sierra Leone is an African country. Yes, an African country with fastidious shrewd, heartless leaders, who would not have any moral trouble, milking on the miseries of the poor. Sadly enough, the victims are left with nothing; no food, shelter, land to farm. No income. No future. Having waited for the promised manna, which never came, many of the disaster victims had only one option: to go back to their destroyed and disaster-prone communities to face the realities of their lives – the brink life of hopelessness.
Unfortunately, the Director of Disaster Management at the Office of National Security, John Rogers, who is directly in charge of the disaster package and settlement, has refused to comment on the issue, which has become a national scandal, despite several attempts.
This is not the first time poor innocent Sierra Leoneans feel merciless cheated and abandoned by the very government officials that are supposed to serve them. In response to the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leona, millions of dollars were donated to the cause. Unfortunately, the government has failed to diligently and judiciously account for the money meant to minimise the suffering of her citizens. Is the government’s response to the mudslide and flood disaster a repetition and rumination of the government’s insatiable greed and the blatant abuse of power in Sierra Leone?
Well, it is a custom in many parts of Africa not to talk while eating. It could be that John Rogers is, in fact, eating. Yes, eating. That might explain, perhaps, why Sierra Leoneans have – for now – not put excessive pressure on him to talk. However, let’s wait and see how long the peace-loving Sierra Leoneans would wait for John Rogers and the government to talk before they act decisively – especially in view of the upcoming general elections in the country.