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Girl, 16, drowns in CICO’s waste

The New Dawn Liberia The New Dawn LiberiaA 16 years old girl has reportedly drowned in an abandoned coal tile pit dug by the Chinese International Construction Company, CICO in Weala, Margibi County.

The victim reportedly died at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Sinkor, Monrovia over the weekend after she was referred by the C.H. Rennie Hospital in Kakata, Margibi.

CICO is currently rehabilitating the Redlight-Gbarnga Highway, a   major outlet to most parts of rural Liberia. 

Residents within the vicinity of the company’s operational areas had earlier decried the deep pit behind the CICO’s fence not too far from the main coal tile.

According to information gathered, the tarmac usually spills from the drums after they burst opened due to severe heat from the sun and flows into a drainage dug by CICO at the back of the company’s fence.

The CICO management has allegedly played deaf ears to citizens’ complaints up to last week’s incident, resulting to death.  

The victim,  Fatu Sumanah, reportedly drowned during the afternoon hours of Wednesday,  April 1, 2015 after she left her Sumanah Town residence in Cinta Township, Margibi County. 

The father of the deceased, Mr. Lusenie Sumanah, narrated to our Margibi County correspondent that  while sitting at home having launch; he saw two boys leaving from the site of the pit with their hands on their heads, going home.

Mr. Sumanah continued that it did not take long he saw his oldest sister, Ma Hawah, coming from down the hill and informed him (Lusenie Sumanah) that someone drowning in the tarmac pit behind the CICO’s fence.

Accoridng to him, when he got on the scene, he saw his daughter sinking, but was alone and could not get her out immediately so he ran back to town, shouting for help.

Mr. Sumanah indicated that when people heard him, they went to rescue the girl, but her entire body was covered in coal tile except her hands.

“When I came for launch, I was sitting here; I saw two little boys coming from the coal tile way there because usually the children go there to find empty drums so when they went there, later I saw them running coming back and luckily for me, it was 5 after 12 this young man and myself were lecturing here; then I saw the two children with their hands resting on their heads then I say there is a problem; what the children doing up there; I was concentrating on them, but really before they could leave from there to come down on the coal tile my mind left from on them.  It not take too long I saw my older sister, Ma Hawah coming from down the hill and said Lusenie, the children came to the house and they said they saw someone in the coal tile, but it looks like she is no more. Right away I went there and when I saw her, there was no way for me take her out I alone; that’s how I ran back in the town and I started shouting my people your come for me-o-oh, my baby left in the coal tile and when we got there, we started to take her out”, he lamented.  

Mr. Sumanah indicated that they managed to get Fatu out and the company immediately used one of its vehicles to take the girl to the C.H. Rennie Hospital in Kakata for medical treatment.

However, she was subsequently transferred to the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Monrovia, but was pronounced dead on Friday, April 3, 2015.

Investigation conducted by this paper also revealed that some family members of the deceased including the father tried compromising with the CICO management. 

Our reporter following the case said  the company failed to send a representative to the grave site during the burial of the victim, while the family could not obtain a death certificate when the aunt of deceased insisted that she sees a death certificate before the burial. 

Our reporter further said the company, general town chief and family members of the deceased did not informed the local authorities  in the area, something, which got Township Commissioner, elders and clan chief irritated. 

The Liberia National Police detachment in Kakata is investigating the incident.

But when contacted, authorities of CICO declined to comment as Human Resource Manager, Madam Jacquelene Sogbandi switched off her phone, while Safety Engineer,  Kelvin Clarke, phone rang endlessly without response.  

By Ramsey N. Singbeh, Jr. in  Margibi

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