August 11, 2015 By Samuel Ben Turay
Residents of Kroo Bay are reluctant to be relocated to a safer location despite poor hygiene and safety at one of the biggest slums in Freetown. Each rainy season, thousands of Kroo Bay residents are at risk of drowning in flood waters or losing property as the settlement is perilously very close to the Atlantic Ocean.
Successive governments have talked about relocating the slum residents to a safer location, but to no avail.
Pa Alimamy Kamara, a chief in the community told Concord Times in an interview that there do not want to be relocated to another settlement because their lives have gotten used to the environment of the community, though acknowledging vulnerability to communicable diseases and floods every year.
“I have lived here for over 40 years. My family and I are used to the environment. I find it hard to go and live in another community,” said the elderly chief.
He said the public should consider them as responsible citizens, notwithstanding the community they find themselves, adding that many of Freetown’s residents regard them as scum because they live in a slum area.
He admitted that each year Kroo Bay residents panic as to what could be their fate during the raining season. This year, however, unlike other years, residents have so far been spared the unenviable task of protecting their property from rain water and thieves. Fretown has experienced low rain fall compared to previous years. This is a huge relief for Kroo Bay’s residents, especially as fears were high that a natural disaster amid the current woes of a deadly Ebola outbreak would have brought increased misery to thousands who call Kroo Bay home.
For community leader Mohamed S. Sesay, such comes as huge relief because only few of Kroo Bay’s shanty houses have roofs that can withstand heavy rainstorms. Sesay, who is father of four children and two wives, said despite the seasonal discomfort he was happy to continue living in the vulnerable community. “I can only educate my children here in this community. Here is better for me and my family,” said Sesay boldly. “We are used to the flood. Flood is no longer news to us, we expect flood each year.”
Kroo Bay is the largest slum community in the country with an estimated 10,000 habitants. Each year during the rainy season, Kroo Bay community experiences flooding more than once, and on each occasion floods invade homes washing away furniture, utensils and clothes.
Mohamed P. Kargbo, an elder in the community, agreed that staying in the community they have used to is better than relocate them. He said the flooding is often caused by the overflow of a huge colonial gutter, Samba gutter which overflows with water from the hills that empties into the Atlantic Ocean.