With Support from the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration (SLMA), the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) has on Saturday 3rd September 2022 presented forty brand new Life Jackets to canoe owners to ensure the safety of passengers currently using sea transportation to and from Bumpeh Town, Bo District.

It could be recalled that on September 1st, 2022 reports of an accident on Bumpeh Bridge that links Bo and Bonthe Districts became impassable. The accident was caused by a low-bed trailer transporting a heavy-duty machine from Bo to Mattru which outweighed the age-old bridge, forcing it to collapse.

Upon receiving the report, NDMA’s Director of Risk Reduction and Preparedness, Thomas Lebbie immediately contacted authorities within the Transport and Marine sectors to ensure that residents within those Towns and Villages were provided with a safer alternative means of crossing the river to carry out their daily activities.

Consequently, the provision of life jackets to local canoe owners by sea transport safety standards is to ensure that commuters especially school-going pupils are safe and protected from any unforeseen circumstance.

The damaged bridge was used by major mining and agricultural companies operating within Bonthe District. The majority of the people living within Bumpeh and its environs are smallholder farmers who depend entirely on subsistence farming.

This incident has already impacted the free-flow of traffic, disruption of farming activities, swift response to emergencies and increased transportation fares for commuters.

In addition to the provision of life jackets, the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Emma Kowa-Jalloh and Member of Parliament for constituency 078, Bo District, Hon. Habib Fabbah also ensured the deployment of two (2) motorized speed boats with 40 horsepower outboard engines to commute residents to and from their farms and other livelihood activities.

Minister Jalloh and the NDMA also agreed with the community stakeholders that all farmers and school-going pupils should not pay crossing fare starting Monday 5th September, and that the boats should only run between 7am and 7pm daily.

The NDMA is also working with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to deploy an ambulance for health emergencies.

The handing-over ceremony was witnessed by Hon Kowa-Jalloh; an indigene of Bumpeh, the Resident Minister South, Mohamed Alie, and the Bo District Council Chairman, Joseph Munda Bindi.

Other prominent stakeholders from Bonthe District including Moses Probyn, Bonthe District Council Chairman, the Minister of Lands, Housing and Country Planning, Turad Senesie and Lawrence Conteh, Regional Manager, SLMA South have been briefed and acknowledged the need for improved safety measures for all commuters.

The NDMA will continue its risk reduction drive across the country and effectively respond to incidents when they occur.

For any emergency: call NDMA’s toll-free line 1199 using Africell.

Credit: Directorate of Communications
National Disaster Management Agency