By Kemo Cham in Conakry
Nearly two months after the December 18 oil depot explosion in Conakry, the Guinean government have handed over the remains of the victims to their families following an interfaith funeral service.
The event on Friday, February 2 was presided over by President Mamadi Doumbouya.
Present at the event were the President of the National Transition Council (Parliament), Dr. Dansa Kourouma, and other high profile government officials as well as representatives of the victims.
President Doumbouya paid his respect to the mortal remains of the victims.
Both Muslim and Christian clergies offered sermons and prayers for the departed souls.
A total of 25 bodies were on display at the funeral service held at the Palace de Peuple, among them eight Sierra Leonean nationals, whose remains were draped in the country’s national colors of Green, White and Blue. Officials say one of the bodies remained unidentified.
A representative of the Sierra Leonean victims expressed thanks to the Guinean authorities for caring for all the victims without regard for their nationalities.
The explosion in the business and administrative district of Kaloum in the heart of the Guinean capital led to a huge fire that destroyed what is the country’s largest oil depot, causing serious shortage of fuel, with negative consequences for the economy. Several houses were also destroyed.
Residents whose homes were destroyed have criticized the government’s handling of the crisis.
A day before the funeral, several women staged a protest, blocking major highways leading into Kaloum, which is also home to the presidency and other government offices, thereby disrupting business in the district for most part of the day. The protesters were angry that the government had failed to fulfil its promises of providing aid to the victims, including reconstruction of their destroyed homes.
Some of the women held placards depicting their sufferings, while others carried kitchen utensils with them, suggesting that they have no place to live.