The leadership of the Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO) on Wednesday 17th April, 2024 engaged stakeholders and landowners at the Konsho Balancing Reservoir site in Makeni with a view to facilitate the construction of a Balancing Reservoir and all the activities associated with same. The meeting was held at the compound of the Paramount Chief of Gbanti Chiefdom-PC Massa Yeli Tham III.

The PC expressed his delight and appreciation to the SALWACO team, but most especially to the Managing Director for favorably responding to his calls and honoring his invitation to attend the meeting. He said that he was always willing and ready to accept development in his chiefdom and that anything causing hinderance to the aspect of development will not be encouraged. The PC MassaYeli further introduced some dignified personalities on the side of the stakeholders including the Chiefdom Speaker, the District Council Chairman, the Ceremonial Chief, the Chiefdom Administrative Clerk, the representative of the Fornah and the Koroma families.

The Managing Director of SALWACO, Ing. George Lamin Vandi started by appreciating the Paramount Chief and his people for availing themselves for this meeting and zeroed in on congratulating Dr. Mohamed M.B. Sisay his former colleague, for ascending to the level of District Council Chairman.

MD Vandi extended felicitations from the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation and the Board of Directors and informed the group that as heads of the water institutions, they were aware of the present meeting.

The main purpose of the meeting as put forward by MD Vandi was to discuss and agree on the location of the balancing reservoir. He said that the Company would not want to hand over the Water Treatment Plant without the Balancing Reservoir whereby water could get to its final destination – the population, adding that the construction work cannot happen without meeting with, involving and formally informing the people concerned especially the land owners.

MD Vandi also spoke on the confusion about the payment for the nine (9) acers of land that was done by the African Development Bank through CHICO the Chinese Company which was the contractor at that time.

At this juncture, SALWACO’s Director of Administration, Denis Macavorey produced a letter from the land-owning family- the Fornahs requesting for the balance payment, because according to the family, the second payment was long overdue.

The Director of Project Management, Ing. Yankuba Tarawally also produced a balance payment receipt for the water treatment plant and the balancing reservoir, dated 12th November, 2018. These two documents clearly indicated that indeed the company had paid in full for 9 acers.

MD Vandi drew the attention of all present especially the land owners to the pride the great grandchildren of George Washing of America and Winston ChurchHill of England have for the part they played in developing those places which they were now enjoying, meaning that those who start development might not live to enjoy it but their children’s children will be proud of what their forefathers did in their time. He promised that after everything is done, the Company with high powered delegation will be back for the commissioning of the whole project.

MD Vandi also used the opportunity to formally hand over the project to the people.

Saffa S.K. Bockarie, SALWACO’s Director of Policy Planning and Research explained to the people the development opportunities that have been established as a result of the presence of the reservoirs in Bo and Kenema. He said that dwelling houses and commercial centres have been built around those places that were not there before the reservoir. Therefore, the presence of the balancing reservoir will eventually bring along other development opportunities including extension of the township, he concluded.

Daniel Koroma who was at that time of payment, Social Affairs’ Coordinator and in charge of compensations said that he was there when the payment was made, but it was not well explained that the payment included the site for the balancing reservoir which is jointly owned by the Fornahs and the Koromas.

It was at this point that MD Vandi told them that even though payment was made few years back for the site of the reservoir, the company was willing to pay a small token so that the work will commence. The Paramount Chief then asked the two families to consult and come up with a reasonable amount.

After consultative meetings of the landowning families and SALWACO, it was concluded that some compensation be paid to the land owners for the location of the reservoir.

Several actions points were reached during the engagement including; the contractor to continue work on erecting the balancing reservoir, the Fornahs to provide three (3) representatives and the Koromas two (2) reps for the surveys, surveyors of both the land-owning families and SALWACO to survey all the designated areas, Director Macavorey to supervise the survey process and all paper work.

Two days after the meeting, Director Macavorey reported that the survey for the 9 acers was complete.

Other members of the SALWACO delegation included, Director of Finance, Frank Lahai Kamara, Capital and Development Manager Ing. Marilyn George, Stakeholder and Media Relations Manager, Mary Mansaray Ngegba, Makeni Station Manager, Ing. Emmanuel Fanday Bayoh, Finance Officer Makeni, Alusine Bangura and Water Quality & Safety Officer Ing. Faud Hamid Kamara.

Stakeholders included, but not limited to; Gbanti Chiefdom Speaker, Osman Kofie Tarawalie, Bombali District Council Chairman, Dr. Mohamed M. B. Sisay, Ceremonial Chief, Pa Doke Kalokoh, Mr. Daniel Koroma-representing the Koroma Family, Mr. Simeon Fornah representing the Fornah Family and other community stakeholders and representatives.