Belgium Market, Freetown, Friday 27 August 2021 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has presented a cheque of Le10 million to each of the 88 fire victims, tollaling Le880 million, and provided other support to three households affected by the disaster of 5 March 2021 that gutted the Belgium Market in the central business district of Freetown.
Reacting to the President’s goodwill gesture, Madam Zainab Bangura, one of the beneficiaries and the Women’s Leader of the Belgium Sellers’ Association representing a very large community of businessmen and women in the central business district, thanked President Bio and his government for the show of love. She said they would forever be grateful to a man who helped them during difficult times.
While presenting the cheques, food and non-food items to the beneficiaries, President Julius Maada Bio said he was happy to do the presentation in person, saying that that was a show of care and value for his people, even in difficult times.
“I know you suffered during the fire incident. That is why I am here in person to try to compensate for your loss. We are a caring government, and we love our people. The 88 individual businesses and three households identified will benefit from this gesture,” he noted.
After his address and presentation, the President encouraged all those who witnessed the occasion to take advantage of the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination, so that the country could beat the Coronavirus that was ravaging lives and economies of the world. He further urged them to work together for the betterment of the country.
Director-General of the National Disaster Management Agency, Lt. General (Rtd.) Brima Bureh Sesay, said the separation of the agency from the Office of National Security (ONS) was to have a body that would effectively and efficiently advise on issues relating to disaster mitigation and to minimise incidences across the country. He added that it was a manifesto fulfillment of the New Direction government to ensure that citizens living in disaster-prone areas were properly taken care of in times of disaster.
“From November 2020, the National Disaster Management Agency has supported 774 homes, 17 order facilities like schools, churches and mosques and 12,448 people throughout the country. This shows that President Julius Maada Bio is a listening leader who cares for the well-being of his people,” he noted.
Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Edward Hinga Sandi, said the fire incident at the Belgium Market community was a blessing in disguise because it drew the attention of the central government to how pushful and focused those businessmen and women were, adding that apart from President Bio’s goodwill gesture and commiseration, they would now benefit from the next set of the government Munafa Microcredit facility.
“My ministry will create a special opportunity to ensure that the Belgium Market gets a direct link with suppliers. I think it will add more value to your businesses,” he assured.
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