Operation Pebu housing project which was spearheaded by the International Military Training Team (IMATT) in 2003 to address the housing needs of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) is now an eyesore in military barracks across the country.
The Pebu project; which derived its name from Mende, meaning (in a house) saw the construction of houses in some military camps, which in the estimation of doubting thomases, is an “advanced makeshifts” as houses built during the period of the operation are on the brink of collapse.
Technically, the houses were built with hydra-form blocks, which, if properly would have been done, would have stood the test of time.
Ironically however, in less than 14 years, the houses have increasingly become dilapidated to a point that sooner than later, the Pebu project will become history.
Pujehun District, which hosts 14th Infantry Battalion, has about 84 apartment buildings constructed during the operation.
On the visit of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Defence, it was evident that the houses were built far below standards, and have eventually become inhabitable.
Reports, which further lend credence to the poor project, stated that local building materials such as sand, sticks among others, were purportedly bought from Freetown and transported to project sites such as Kabala and Pujehun by IMATT.
The roofs of the buildings are presently leaking profusely as if they were built over one hundred years ago.
The latrine/toilet facilities provided for the Pebu buildings are nothing good to write home about. Apart from them being far below modern toilets; as they are dug-out pit latrines, they are worse off with regards their locations to the blocks. All of the latrines are located over 100 meters away from the buildings.
One soldier had this to say, “in the event a colleague is under urgent call of nature, the location of the latrines will lead to his disgrace. We are really not happy with the situation,” he lamented.
In essence, the condition of the general Pebu project, according to Committee Members, is not only molestation to gallant men of RSLAF but a disgrace to the nation.
Even when the buildings are plastered (a process peculiar to hydra-form buildings), yet the bricks are being washed off by rain in a short time.
As a result, soldiers inhabiting those buildings have reported cases of pneumonia at their Medical Inspection Room (M.I-Room).
At 14th Infantry Battalion, the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Tamba Yamba revealed to Committee members that his unit recorded eight deaths from last year to this month, the latest being two officers. Officers at the M.I-Room said that the deceased officers were mostly diagnosed to have accumulated a lot of cold, which led to their sad demise.
He said that despite the regular supply of medical consignment to the unit, the prevailing conditions cannot be easily surmounted due to the lack of adequate dwelling facility across military barracks in the country.
It was also reported that accommodation for the Forward Patrol Base (FPB) along the border areas is relatively appalling, amidst the lacuna in accessing communication facility at their location.
Certainly, because of the sheer failure of the Pebu project, which presently acts as catalyst to the poor dwelling facility for soldiers, the government is at the moment putting up ultra-modern structures in particularly 5th Infantry Brigade in Gondama Barracks, Bo District, as part of its moves to salvaging the appalling dwelling facilities for soldiers.
By Poindexter Sama
Tuesday June 24, 2014