The Governor of the Upper River Region, Samba Bah

By: Foday Manneh

The Governor of the Upper River Region, Samba Bah, did ask for monies donated and collected for victims of the Basse market fire in February 2020 to be used for the payment sitting allowance for members of his committee responsible for the allocation of canteens at the new Basse market.

This was disclosed by Sanna Drammeh, the Secretary General of the Basse Market Committee, who gave an update to TAT on the money donated and collected to support the victims of the market in their recovery process.

It would be recalled that following the D100-million reconstruction of new Basse Market by the central government, President Adama Barrow designated the Governor to lead the allocation of the canteens at the new market, overriding the statutory responsibility of the Basse Area Council to do so.

Meanwhile, cash amounting to D4 million was donated by organizations, politicians and private individuals to assist the victims of the February 2020 Basse market fire, which reportedly burnt goods, canteens and stalls worth almost D60 million in the old market, according to Drammeh.

‘’The donated money was divided into two categories among the assessed victims of the market. Category one is the shopkeepers and category two was the petty traders within and outside the premises of the former market.

‘’A rapid assessment was done by an ad hoc committee comprising representatives of the Governor’s office, the National Disaster Management Agency, Red Cross, Basse Area Council, and the market committee; and, every assessed victim was given his or her share of this money.

‘’Shopkeepers inside the market received each D13,570 and those doing petty trading with their tables and baskets received D5,764 each. A balance of D200,000 was saved in the bank account to which I am a signatory.

‘’However, before the Ramadan, the Governor asked for this remaining balance to be used for the payment of sitting allowances, and also for provision of food during meetings of his committee responsible for the canteen allocation. This was discussed and agreed upon at one of their meetings.

“When I was informed about it, I was surprised and engaged my team. I told them that if we give this money to the Governor’s committee, then we are serving the Governor’s interest over and above that of the victims.

“For more than two months, we had left our businesses to engage in the assessment of the victims, and we were never paid or even compensated for our work.

“We demanded payment, but our request was rejected by the National Disaster Management Agency regional coordinator, who told us to serve voluntarily as members of the market committee engaged in that process.

“So why should they use the same money for the Governor’s committee set up just to allocate canteens? We rejected his plan, and say no to his request.’’

Drammeh asserted that the remaining balance of D200,000 will be kept for victims who are yet to be assessed, and are waiting and could be eligible for compensation.

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