Residents express fear
June 27, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
The failure of the government to remove or crush huge rocks overlooking the Mount Aureol community poses an imperious danger to communities in Mountain Cut, Upper Fullah Street and Rock-Stone, among others.
The communities are at risk of losing lives if nothing is done by the appropriate authorities to remove or crush big rocks dangling above them.
Community sources say residents live in fear especially as weather forecast for the country predicts heavy rains and possible flooding in the current rainy season.
Concord Times early this year toured the communities and published front page news about the looming danger the rocks pose to residents. However, community sources say nothing has been done by the government to crush the rocks.
According to Francis Thullah, a member of Rock-Stone Development Organisation, approximately 10, 000 people live in the community.
He claimed that people decided to build houses around the rocky environment because landlords have been demanding hundreds of dollars from them as annual rent and most of them cannot afford to pay such amount of money.
“People pay reasonable amount of money for house rent here and we have been advising people not to construct houses closer or under the stones because we are quite aware of the disaster they pose. However, because they have been accusing us that we are preventing them to construct houses closer to the stones because we have got places to build our houses, we stopped telling them not to,” he disclosed.
He said that if the stones roll they could destroy houses in the Upper Fullah Street, Mount Aureol, Rock-Stone and Mountain Cut communities.
He disclosed that the chairman of the community, Buya Kamara, had urged residents to contribute some amount of money pay people to remove the stones. He noted that they need the government to help with crushing the rocks in order to help avert a looming disaster.
At Mount Aureol community, Fatu Bangura said they are having sleepless night because of the threat the rocks pose to their lives as most of the houses would be affected if the rocks roll.
She explained that erosion has removed the soil which used to hold the rocks intact, thus increasing the vulnerability level in the community.
“Despite the fact that most of us are afraid because of the danger the stones pose, we are also worried that the government will relocate us rather than remove the stones. The lesson that we have learnt from the relocation of those affected by flooding [in other areas] is that government has not delivered most of the things that it promised to deliver to the victims at Mile Six,” she said.
Asked what were some of the things promised by the government that have not been delivered, she said the Mile Six settlement has no market and that job opportunities are zero, adding that they could sell commodities faster and make quick profit in Freetown.
Research Officer at the Office of National Security (ONS), Nathaniel Kaiba Kamara, said that the stones were exposed because of human activities such as construction of houses and backyard gardening.
He said that ONS would have to do a risk assessment in the community before deciding on what to do.
Asked if the ONS would recommend that residents relocate to a safer community after the risk assessment, he said relocation would be the last option because it comes with human right issues for the affected population.
He disclosed that the ONS have increased the number of volunteer groups in new communities who report to them any signs of disaster for their timely intervention.