Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 March 2021:
Yesterday morning, in the wake of the fire disaster that destroyed hundreds of properties, leaving thousands destitute in the Susan Bay slum community in Freetown, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr joined the Director General of the newly formed National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), Lieutenant General (Rtd) Sesay, the ONS, Councillor Madina Kamara, Community leaders and partners to assess the damage and formulate emergency humanitarian assistance for victims and their families.
This followed her visit to the community as the disaster unfolded between 7 and 10 pm on the evening of 24th March.
Freetown City Council in collaboration with the NDMA also organised a Partners meeting to establish what immediate resources could be delivered to those most at need.
Chaired by the DG of the NDMA, and supported by FCC’s Mayor and Deputy Mayor, the meeting was attended by 69 individuals representing 42 NGOs and MDAs.
Many firm commitments were made, including the immediate supply of food and water for up to 5000 victims by Save the Children.
The NDMA is leading the response as a level two national disaster, and has established Pillar Leads for Registration, Shelter, Water/Sanitation, Logistics, Pysychosocial, Nutrition (and non-food items), Security and Education.
These leads will collaborate on the ground with Ward Council and Community leaders to deliver an immediate response, whilst NDMA develops the next steps.
Casualty numbers are not yet known but thousands are affected, as many hundreds of properties, over an area of at least 10 hectares, have been completely destroyed.
Meanwhile, questions are being asked about the cause of the fire. Opposition politician – Dr Sylvia Blyden who is also a former Social Welfare minister, said on Tweeter yesterday that there is suspicion of arson borne out of revenge.
“In last 24 hours, I launched a multi-prong private investigation into mysterious FIRE that swept Susan’s Bay. Based on initial startling but credible findings, I am now making a Call for an immediate Special Investigation into motive behind what may be ARSON inspired by REVENGE,” Dr Blyden said.
The police are yet to make a statement on their initial investigations with the fire service.