Discussions centred on the impact the projects have made on the lives of beneficiaries, challenges faced especially in the rural water supply sector and how best they could be addressed to make the project a success.
The Task Manager for the two projects, Rogers Lubunga, in an overview described the projects generally as successful. Mr. Lubunga expressed delight at the provision of water to people in Bo, Kenema and Makeni as a result of the successful implementation of especially the first phase of the three Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Project.
He used the opportunity to call on the government and the Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO) to help provide more service connections for consumers, so that more people will enjoy the facility. Mr. Lubunga expressed hope that government and SALWACO would initiate more motivational measures that would make service delivery more efficient and excellent.
He also spoke about the Inter-Relations Management Component of the Rural Water and Sanitation Project which involves ministry of water resources officials, representatives of Councils from Koinadugu, Kono, Bonthe, Pujehun and Kambia, and how hundreds of thousands of people in those areas have benefitted from clean water supply. He, however, pointed out how they have twice experienced the unsavory situation of being unable to meet the disbursement target, a situation compounded more by the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone and the lack of capacity on the part of the local contractors hired by the councils to construct the infrastructure component of the project.
He praised SALWACO for having the capacity to handle the project.
AfDB Country Manager, Peninsh Kariuki, stressed the importance of the projects to the Bank which could help determine the country’s portfolio and encourage the government to ensure the successful implementation of the projects.
Minister of Water Resources, Dr. Jonathan Tengbe, in receiving the AfDB Team and SALWACO officials, spoke of government’s commitment to support the water supply sector. He said that as a newly appointed minister, he would look at both the successes and challenges faced by his ministry.
This, he further noted, prompted him to form a team comprising personnel from SALWACO, the ministry and Guma Valley Water Company, to do a brief or official document on all the projects and then come up with 100 days Quick Win Plan aimed at tackling some of the pressing problems affecting the Water and Sanitation Sector. The minister said he was pleased with the report, but however stated that being new, he would have to look at suggestions and recommendations by the AfDB Country Office.
Dr. Tengbe promised to work with the team in subsequent meetings for solutions on problems faced. He conveyed His Excellency the President, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio’s New Direction Initiative of which improving water supply in the country is an integral component.
SALWACO Director General, Samuel Bangura, and team were also among those present during the discussions.