Sierra Leone Telegraph: 05 February 2023:
Dozens of school children who were invited by the wife of President Bio and the government to attend a rally at the Bo stadium in southern Sierra Leone, were seriously injured when a section of the stadium collapsed.
The rally which critics say was political, was according to the government the “launch of the 2023 First Lady Fatima Bio’s free sanitary pads distribution”. Thousands of children and their parents were taking part in the rally.
Question has been raised as to why school children had to be taken out of school to attend the launch event, which could have been done in schools across the country.
The government has been criticised for using the event as a electioneering propaganda campaign ahead of elections in June.
President Bio visited the injured school children at the Bo Government Hospital where he was joined by the Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Austin Demby.
Speaking to medics at the hospital, President Bio said: “When the incident occurred at the mini stadium, our children were rushed to the hospital for your intervention and to help save their lives. From what I have gathered so far, you have done an extremely good job. So, I am here to see the children and to also say thank you.
“Again, thank you very much. We cannot pay you for the job that you are doing. Caretakers and all the medical staff, I am here to really express my profound gratitude to you for the good work you have been rendering to this nation. We ask that you continue doing that because my government’s agenda on human capital development cannot be achieved without your contribution. You are one of the strongest pillars in that fight.
“So, as your President, we really depend on this sector, and you have never failed my government or the nation. The medical team has been professional at all times. During the last disaster in Bo, your response was very timely, quick, and professional. I am very proud of the work you have been doing, and that is why I decided to come and see you as much as I wanted to come to see the children.”
District Medical Officer, Dr Prince Masuba, said since the incident on Thursday, 2 February 2023, all the healthcare providers in all the units that were not on duty urgently responded to the emergency with professionalism.
Updating the President on the health of the children, Dr Masuba said that since the first set of school children arrived at the hospital they have been responding to treatment and that all of them are stable.
Aminata Braima, 32, and mother of one of the injured girls, said, “Our girls were happy and looked forward to attending the programme of the First Lady. As a parent, I noticed the excitement in my daughter and her friend as they left on that fateful day for the stadium. When the news of the accident broke, I was devastated and terrified. We rushed to the hospital, and all the parents were worried. We thank God for their lives”.