The newly appointed Minister of Fisheries Joseph Koroma’s unique approach in addressing issues of national interest, especially those relating to the plight of the rural poor has won the hearts and minds of many.
His unannounced and low key visits, coupled with positive actions and good will messages to various fishing communities under his purview, have given hope to the hitherto hopeless fisher folks.
Following a needs assessment visit to his Ministry’s out stations and fishing communities, in Makali, Bo, Gbondapi and Sulima, the Minister of Fisheries has also concluded a one day familiarization visit to the Ministry’s defunct field operational base at Conakridee where he painstakingly inspected the remains of the once thriving fishing centre.
“I have deliberately decided to make my visit completely devoid of fanfare, pomp and pageantry in order to get a first hand knowledge of your activities and problems”, he told a representative group of deprived fishers at the Ministry’s resource centre while re-echoing President Koroma’s desire to rehabilitate infrastructures destroyed during the war.
The Minister, amidst cheers disclosed plans by the Russian Government to provide the sum of one million dollars to procure fish processing and preservation machines for fishers in the country.
He commended the fishers for renouncing bad fishing methods and surrendering their bad nets and disclosed plans to replace them. Mr Koroma encouraged the Fishing community to play a leading role in the implementation of projects and assured them of government’s desire to revive their fisheries infrastructures.
The Acting Deputy Director of Fisheries Alpha Bangura revealed plans by the Ministry to embark on a number of projects in the area including, the construction of a jetty and provision of fishing gears for fishers with funds from the World Bank.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Ahmed Kemokai said the Ministry is undergoing restructuring in order to meet its numerous challenges and called on them to be united.
The acting Station Officer Mohamed Jaia who led the Minister and team on a conducted tour of the center’s facility outlined problems facing them including lack of water supply, inadequate staff and incentive.
Head of the fishermen, Pa Ibrahim Kamara described the visit as unprecedented and hoped it will help address their sufferings.
The Councillor in the area Sulaiman Kamara explained that the enforcement of rules governing illegal fishing has rendered them unpopular among their compatriots whose livelihoods greatly depend on fishing. He called on government and donor agencies to help improve their welfare.
Chairlady of the fish mongers Ramatu Kamara stated constraints they are facing while catering for their homes and looked forward to provision of facilities that would improve their lots.
By A. Max Konneh, Press Officer MFMR