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Taskforce to Investigate Wellington Fire Disaster Presents Report to Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio, Makes General and Specific Recommendations

State House, Freetown, Thursday 28 April 2022 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio today received a report from the 15-man Presidential Taskforce set up to investigate circumstances surrounding the cause and extent of destruction after the Wellington petrol tanker fire disaster of 5 November 2021 that claimed over 150 lives.

Chair of the committee and Director General of the National Disaster Management Agency, NDMA, Lt. Gen. (Rtd.) Brima Sesay said they were presenting the findings with general and specific recommendations for all institutions that constituted the Sierra Leone Incident Management System, SLIMS.

“First, we found out that the behaviour of the public, following the collision, was a major contributing factor to the scale of the incident and a serious cause for concern. At the outset…despite the tanker driver using a megaphone borrowed from a nearby seller to advise the public to avoid the scene, he was reportedly insulted and his advice completely ignored,” he said.

He noted that they also proved that the fire disaster occurred following the collision between the fuel tanker and the tipper truck over half an hour before the explosion.

Lt. Gen. (Rtd.) Sesay added that there was poor communication between security services and the Petroleum Regulatory Agency, responsible for regulating oil marketing companies, and emphasised the need to enhance effective communication among all players in the SLIMS.

“Your Excellency, it is fervently hoped that one critical turnaround point in the entire emergency management establishment in the country is the provision of knowledge to the public on dangers associated with industrial products in BRVs or fuel tankers that ply the carriage-way in the country,” he said.

In his response, President Bio described the incident as a national disaster the magnitude of which they had never seen in recent times, adding that he had to cut short his trip abroad to return home to provide leadership, give hope and console the bereaved.

“We were overwhelmed but, in the circumstances, you led the response. I want to use this opportunity to thank you the NDMA and all other agencies that were first responders. It includes the military, the fire force, the medical team and all forces that came to help on that day.

“I was particularly pleased with the health professionals who did their best and took care of our compatriots, the victims. This is a clearer indication that we must all work together, especially at difficult times,” he said.

He assured that his Government was going to take a closer look at the findings and recommendations and definitely look at what policy and measures they could take henceforth to prevent any such possibilities.

“But I think the lessons brought out in these recommendations, especially with regards to lawlessness, to the inactions by certain agencies or lack of rapid reactions to incidents of this nature, point to the fact that as a government we should prevent, where possible, or should always be ready for incidents of this nature,” he concluded.

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MINISTER PANDA-NOAH COMMISSIONS NATIONAL FIRE FORCE SUB-STATION

A newly constructed National Fire Force sub-station at Seima Town, Rokel Western Rural District in Freetown has been officially commissioned by the Reviewing Officer and Minister of Internal Affairs David Maurice Panda-Noah.

CHIEF FIRE OFFICER (CFO) NAZIR KAMANDA BONGAY MAKING STATEMENT

In his address, the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Nazir Kamanda Bongay humbly welcomed the invitees especially the Minister of Internal Affairs and entourage from the Gambia Republic and as well, expressed gratitude to His Excellency the President and the government of Sierra Leone, as the event was not just about commissioning the fire station, but significantly a demonstration of government fulfilling manifesto commitment and promised, in the overall search to find better firefighting machinery for Seima Town in the Western Rural Area and for the people of this country. According to him, fire preparedness of any nation is a possible recognition of the developmental growth of that country, as fire insecurity does not only improvised, the population but can also destroy the material, psychological and social aspect of people which he believes has prompted government to established more fire stations to enable the NFF to reach fire disaster prone areas in the shortest possible time.

“The journey to fighting fire is not an easy task but the effort in the discharge of our duties has all been through governments committed effort, in spite, of the many challenges we have encountered by the public especially the youth in the discharge of our duties, this year we have successfully fought more than one thousand three hundred fire incidents, rescued people from water wells and other disaster prone areas in the country”. Mr. Bongay stated.

He concluded by appealing to key players in the government especially the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning to protect the NFF piece of land and to emphasized on the importance of access roads, as it always impedes their effort to get to the scene of fire disaster and their response to fire calls is spontaneous, but their effort is most times frustrated as a result of the increase value of human and vehicular traffic. The CFO further thanked the government and their donor partners through the Ministry of Internal Affairs, for the many support they have received in the form of firefighting equipment and engines, adding that they are now more protected with adequate and quality regalia that will enable them to enter into burning buildings much easier, and the establishment of more fire stations is a noble and stringent measure in effective service delivery.

DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF THE WESTERN RURAL DISTRICT COUNCIL ROBERT BROWNE MAKING STATEMENT

The Deputy Chairman of the Western Rural District Council Robert Browne on behalf of the Seima Town, Rokel Community expressed delight and applauded the government for responding to their corporate social responsibility with such a remarkable development, as their wish was to get NFF station in the East to ease the quick intervention of firefighters in the case of fire disaster. Adding that the development is a welcome news to the community and they look forward to the sustainability and operation of the fire station. He further pleaded with the government for more opportunities to be brought to the community.

MINISTER PANDA NOAH MAKING STATEMENT

The keynote speaker, Reviewing Officer and Minister of Internal Affairs David Panda-Noah representing H.E the President and the government of Sierra Leone, remarked that he feel honored to commission government institutional and operational capabilities of security and safety institutions as their mission is to create a safe, secured and enabling environment for the people of this nation through one of its security Agencies, the NFF. He said he is grateful for the outstanding support as his Ministry’s role is key in the internal security and safety of the country, adding that the achievement is as a result of the government manifesto commitment by H.E the President and the government and they are committed to further strengthen the NFF for effective service delivery. He disclosed that human capital development is very important for a viable community and it is through the collaboration of various stakeholders that they were able to put together a road map to established effective and efficient fire service, this he said is evident by their strides to reach this stage in commissioning fire stations with special reference to the fire station at Seima Town, Rokel, in order to enhance firefighting search and rescue activities in the Western Rural Area and beyond.

“I am indeed personally imbued and overwhelmed by the fanfare that accompanies this momentous occasion, an occasion manifesting the fulfillment of our manifesto commitment by the addition of one more facility to the fire infrastructure of the community and the country as a whole”. Minister Panda-Noah said.

In this vein, he commended the NFF team for their astute leadership, commitment and selfless sacrifices and service especially the CFO who have been doing remarkably well in dispensation of his official responsibilities in transforming the fire service and further implore them to continue displaying the courage and spirit, to give their utmost to the nation as he officially commissioned the Western Rural Area fire station.

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Bomeh On Fire (In Pictures)

On Thursday 21st March 2019 at around 3pm a refused site commonly known as Bomeh was seen with deep smoke and fire followed, the Freetown and Kissy Fire Force are yet to arrive on scene