The government of Ghana has sent relief items and cash worth over $1 million to the government and people of Sierra Leone.
It follows a mudslide that hit the Sierra Leonean capital, Freetown, sometime last week after three days of torrential rainfall, leaving in its wake over 480 recorded deaths and 600 people still missing as well as damaged properties.
On Saturday, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia led a high-powered government delegation to that country to hand over the items and the money to the government and people of Sierra Leone.
The fate that has befallen the West African nation is considered the worst on the entire continent of Africa.
With the veep were Dominic Nitiwul, Minister of Defence; Ambrose Dery, Minister for the Interior; Mustapha Hamid, Minister for Information; Cecilia Abena Dapaah, Minister for Aviation; Charles Owiredu, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Barbara Asher Ayisi, Deputy Minister for Education.
A team of Ghana’s National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), led by the Acting Director General, Eric Nana Agyeman-Prempeh, are also in Sierra Leone to offer technical assistance and train officials of that country on disaster management.
Sierra Leonean officials say at least 480 bodies had been buried, while rescue teams continue the grim work of extracting bodies from under tonnes of debris, with the hope of finding anyone alive fading fast.
The survivors have been relocated to temporary shelters while efforts are being made to permanently resettle them.
Handing over the items, which included rain coats, mattresses, blankets, bales of used clothing, plastic wares, powdered milk, sugar, maize, rice, cooking oil, soaps, treated mosquito nets, generators, among others, Vice President Bawumia said Ghana could not sit aloof while Sierra Leone, with which it has traditionally had very good relations, experience hardship.
His Sierra Leonean counterpart, Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh, received the items on behalf of his government and the people.
In an earlier meeting with President Ernest Bai Koroma, Dr Bawumia conveyed the sympathy of Ghanaians for their West African compatriots and indicated that private citizens and organisations were also collecting relief items to be donated to the victims of the disaster soon.
President Koroma revealed that Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was one of the first leaders to call after the mudslide, adding, “This visit is further evidence of the close relations between Sierra Leone and Ghana.
“Our two countries have been supporting each other over the years, most recently during the Ebola outbreak. Your visit today brings hope and advice on how to deal with this disaster and ways to prevent it in the future. We are most grateful.”
The delegation has since returned home.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu, Presidential Correspondent