About 160 aggrieved swabbers that were attached to the defunct National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) took to the streets of the capital on motorbikes last Wednesday in protest of three months’ salaries due them.
According to report, the angry workers stormed different media institutions, Connaught Hospital and other public institutions to express their dissatisfaction with the delay in the payment of their three months’ salaries after they had risked their lives and their families in fighting the deadly wicked virus that killed over 3,500 Sierra Leoneans.
That Government is insensitive to paying the three months’ salaries of 160 former NERC workers who risked their precious lives to save mankind at the time when the country was gripped with panic and fear is the most unreasonable thing any employer could do to its vulnerable employees.
One would have thought that Government would give preferential treatment to Ebola workers based on the risks they took, the heightened international response to the fight and what institutions and individuals at home and abroad contribution to it, but unfortunately, the Government dissolved NERC and left the 160 swabbers groping in the day for what they honourably deserve as heroes and heroines of the Ebola fight.
If the former Chief Executive Officer of the defunct NERC that was merely doing the talking was earning an ear-watering monthly salary of US$10, 000.00 as he confessed in one of their press briefings, why should the Government not be reasonable enough to consider those who risked their precious lives at the frontlines dealing with Ebola infected people?
Based on the massive resources poured into the Ebola fight by the International Community, institutions and individuals, I believe there is no tangible reason why Government should deprive the swabbers of their three months’ salaries which they toiled for. Even their protest against the unnecessary delay of their salaries has already sent the wrong signal to the International Community as to whether the Government judiciously spent the resources poured into the Ebola fight.
With the audit report on the Management of the Ebola Funds already indicting many Government officials, civil society activists and other stakeholders in the Ebola fight, I would not be surprised if the 160 workers’ three months’ salaries have been embezzled by officials directly responsible for their salaries.
I therefore challenge the former senior officials of NERC to tell Sierra Leoneans why the former swabbers were not paid for three months. And if no reasonable excuse is given for why they have not been paid up to this moment, then it is a case for the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to intervene to ensure those poor swabbers get what they deservedly worked for. Lonta!