The Chief Fire Officer of the National Fire Force, Ahmed Alie Kamanda Bongay has registered his disappointment over the inadequate allocation of funds to his department by the ministry of finance for the 2010 fiscal year. The concern raised by the head of that institution was that only Le 1,014,815,090 (One billion, fourteen million, eight hundred and fifteen thousand and ninety leones) was disbursed to the institution by the Finance and Economic Development Ministry, out of the Le 2,453,805,000 (Two billion, four hundred and fifty three million, eight hundred and five thousand leones) approved by Parliament for the use of NFF in 2010.
Mr. Bongay was on Tuesday 18th January 2011 before Members of Parliament in Committee Room No.2 to bring to their attention constraints faced by his institution in terms of budgetary allocation by the APC government. “This development subjected the National Fire Force to various constraints, thus making the institution ineffective in the discharge of our duties,” he told them, adding that he was most frustrated by the fact that even the amount allocated for the provision of uniforms and other protective gears was never disbursed to the NFF last year. “Even funds allocated for training of personnel, procurement of machinery and other equipments were a far cry from our expectations.”
He described the situation as frustrating, saying they would certainly not cope with such omissions on the part of government. He also disclosed to the parliamentary committee that officers of NFF are not entitled to certain allowances including medical. “It would also interest this committee to know that even risk allowances for my officers have been drastically reduced,” he further lamented.
In the area of training facilities for staff, the fire officer noted that out of the Le 50,000,000 (Fifty million leones) approved by Parliament in 2010, the ministry only disbursed the paltry sum of Le 2,500,000 (Two million five hundred thousand leones) to the institution. “This situation is appalling and untenable for which reason I want action from this Honourable Committee to make Fire Force a viable national institution,” Bongay implored.
It was also revealed by the Fire Force Chief that the institution is also faced with the challenge of refilling their water tanks for the purpose of fire extinguishing with few and interspersed water hydrants in the city.
On their part, Members of the parliamentary sub committee on appropriation expressed dismay over the failure of the Finance Ministry to honor budgetary allocation. They however, promised that they would do all in their power to impress on the finance ministry to attend to that institution adequately and promptly.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.