By Omar Bah & Ebrima Jarra
The National Assembly member for Sandu, Muhammed Mahanera has expressed frustration over the government’s lack of action to assist disaster victims in his constituency.
A recent windstorm in the area affected over 500 people in 200 households.
The residents of the area are also battling with water shortage.
“This is unacceptable. The government should do something now to address this crisis. We cannot continue to neglect our citizens to suffer,” he argued.
He said the government should engage the National Disaster Management Agency to make assessment in areas affected by the windstorm and support victims who are in serious need of assistance.
“I am definitely disappointed with the way and manner the NDMA has handled the issues of disaster victims in Sandu. You have people who are homeless since they lost their houses weeks ago. This is really disappointing and I think the government should address it immediately,” Mahanera said.
Mahanera had already dug three wells for the area but that came rather too little to address the water problems faced by the area.
The lawmaker in partnership with Helping To Make A Difference Charitable Organisation has also distributed 65 bags of rice to underprivileged families and disaster victims.
Mahanera also provided D58, 800, a bed and two mattresses generated from a GoFundMe to five disabled persons in the constituency while the charitable organisation also handed D6000 and six wheelchairs to the disabled in the area.
The head of the Charitable Organisation, Saikou Balajo said his outfit’s intervention is to help humanity especially needy families in this crucial time of global crisis.
“I want to urge other charitable organisations to extend their intervention to provincial Gambia,” he said.
A resident of Jendeh village, who is one of the victims of the disaster, said since the disaster struck his family, he has been sleeping in the same room with his two wives and ten children.
Another disaster victim, Momodou, a resident of Ngengundi village stressed that the disaster has left his family with “no option but to live in a small hut that is so bad that it could fall on us at any time”.
When contacted for comments, the National Disaster Management Agency executive director Sanna Dahaba said the lawmaker should understand that the NDMA is not a charitable organisation and doesn’t operate in a vacuum.
“If a disaster happens, the first thing we do is to assess the damage and know who needs support and on what, so that our support will not be misdirected or misrepresented. Assessment is not an event but a process; you just cannot say somebody has a disaster and you expect us to go there and give them aid. It is not like that; you need to properly assess the damage so that whatever support you are going to give them will benefit them. This is the issue,” he explained.
Dahaba said a detailed assessment of the disaster situation is currently in progress.
“I have visited some selected villages that were severely affected with the chief, governor and other National Assembly members and those people can confirm that. If he is saying that the government has not done enough, that is a political statement and I don’t want to respond to political statements,” he added.