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Demolition exercise…

Affected residents blame gov’t

December 2, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai

Affected residents of the ongoing demolition exercise along Manfred Lane, east of Freetown have blamed government for what they referred to as failure to give them sufficient timeframe to transfer their belongings to safe locations.

The ongoing demolition exercise is meant to pave the way for the construction of the Hillside bye-pass road. Affected residents, especially women are complaining of persistent theft of their personal belongings by ill-motivated youth. Concord Times learnt that some youth were purported to have been hired by the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) to help in the demolition exercise.

One of the affected residents, Pa Morlai Sesay, told Concord Times that he was only informed about the demolition on Monday, adding that there was not sufficient timeframe for him to relocate his family to a safer location.

“I have four houses of thirty (30) bedrooms and all of them have been demolished by some youths,” he said.

He claimed that when the then Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) government of late President Tejan Kabbah wanted to construct a road from Pademba Road through Manfred Lane, residents were duly informed.

He recalled when authorities from the SLRA carried out a survey, stating that two of his houses fell within the area demarcated for the road construction and that government promised to construct a three-room and a parlour house for him within Freetown, but to no avail.

He reiterated that according to the original survey, only two of his houses fell within the demarcated area for the construction, but was surprised that all of his three houses were on Tuesday demolished by some youth who purported to have been hired by SLRA.

 “The SLPP-led government compensated me with over one hundred and fifty million Leones (Le150m) for my houses. I was told that the government had already provided a plot of land for all of us at Yams Farm. Since I was compensated, I stopped collecting monies from tenants,” he said and added that he has never seen the plot of land until Monday November 28th, 2016 when one of his children was asked to go and see the said piece of land.

Alhaji Abu Bangura, who is a house owner, said he has a 10 bedroom-house which was demolished on Wednesday.

He however admitted to have been compensated with twenty-nine million Leones (Le29m) during the reign of former President Tejan Kabbah.

“Officials from SLRA called us at the National Stadium and compensated us. I categorically told them that the amount could not buy me a plot of land for me within Freetown,” he said and noted that he refused to go to the plot of land provided to him by the government at Yams Farm because it was bushy.

 He added that at Yams Farm, there was no electricity and water supply, which he said made it very difficult for him to relocate there.

He claimed that the government had promised to construct houses for them before the demolition exercise, but to no avail.

When contacted, SLRA Public Relations Officer, Sorie Ibrahim Kanu, told Concord Times that residents at Manfred Lane were duly notified to quit since October 17, 2016 but they were adamant to do so even when a deadline of November 7, 2016, was issued them.

“We have paid all of them and provided another piece of land for them but they refused to go. Their conveyances are at the Law Officers Department but they have not gone there to collect them because they wanted to remain at their places in order to obstruct the demolition exercise,” he said.

With regards allegation that most of the people did not benefit from the allocated lands at Yams Farm, Mr. Kanu said: “It is a lie. Those who were making such claims were not landlords. They want to claim lands that were not meant for them.”