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THE COURIER

Torrential Rainfall, Disappearing Vigor of Monthly cleaning, may cause tragedy

Part two (II)

July 16, 2020

By Mohamed Sesay (Lucky)

The Courier in his  gloomy mood,  just reflecting on the September 17th 2015, unprecedented flooding which left thousands of homeless compatriots to seek refuge at the National Stadium, and the August 14th 2017, Mudslide that left hundreds of citizens dead. The Courier is also petrified with regards to the disappearing vigor of the monthly cleaning activities, coupled with a pre-conceived phobia of human tragedy especially during this period of torrential rainfall. The reintroduction of the first Saturday Monthly General Cleaning Exercise by H.E President Retired General Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, was/has been highly commendable. That pronouncement as part of the Executive Order number one (1) by president Bio upon assuming power on the 4th of April 2018, started helping or sanitizing the hygienic standing of the country, especially the capital city Freetown.  Since the inception of the mandated monthly cleaning exercise, the country has not experienced any major catastrophe as a result of flooding. There were lots of Braggartism amongst citizens acknowledging the fact that the country has been sanitized in terms of sanitation protocols and disaster control and prevention measures especially the Mudslide and flooding as a result of torrential rain fall.

It was indeed a well-thoughtful approach by the president as part of his Executive Orders, guaranteed under Chapter (V), part (II) of Section (53) subsection (4) of the 1991 constitution, to have vocalized the resurgence of the Saturday Monthly cleaning exercise after its first implementation under the auspices of the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) Valentine Strasser’s   regime. Well, I was a small boy by then anyways. The country has experienced inimical consequences of sporadic natural disaster like mudslide and flooding wherein valuable lives of our compatriots and properties were lost. Most or all of these catastrophes have a direct link to a torrential rainfall coupled with people building houses around disaster prone or water catchment areas, the unwise disposal of garbage/ disposable materials in drainages, and the absence of the Monthly cleaning exercise, were the compelling factors that compounded the September 17th 2015, and August 14th 2017 mudslide and flooding tragedy respectively. Therefore, President Bio in his wisdom, made a pronouncement for a Monthly cleaning activities which (was/is) in good spirit and intendment of transmogrifying the hygienic safety of people, and preventing the perennial problem of flooding in many parts of the city.

However, that braggadocio among many people claiming that Freetown is competing with cleaner or cleanest countries in Sub-Sahara Africa is becoming disappointingly discreditable, due to the losing culture of the Vim and Vigor among state actors and citizens for a sustained practicing of the all-important monthly cleaning activities. Prior to the covid-19 brouhaha, there were tremendous exhibition of lacking the initial quest and commitment on the part of government in terms of redirecting a colossal sum of the Monthly cleaning funds by the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Local Government, as a the running cost and payment of salaries to drivers of the school bus service. Also,  with the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, and with specificity of the imposition of the Nationwide three-days lockdown, as part of measures to curtail and control the transmission rate of the covid-19 plague, the Ministry of Local Government, align with advice from the National Response Center for covid-19, indefinitely suspended the Monthly cleaning activities. It was indeed a justifiable move for the Ministry of Local Government to have suspended the Monthly cleaning activities at that time, for reasons being that people must have used that period to go and shopping food stuff especially when the first three-day nationwide lockdown fell on a weekend.

Moreover, inasmuch as the indefinite suspension of the monthly cleaning activities was timely at that time, the suspension has equally out-lived its relevance and therefore, it needs to be revisited for a momentous reversal amidst the existing state of a torrential rainfall. There is no modicum of doubt that the floatation of garbage on the streets of Freetown, coupled with the blockage of our drainage systems with waste materials, are the underpinning factors for the flooding that have happened in the country, including the September 17th  2015 flooding which left thousands of homeless people to seek refuge at the National Stadium. Thus, we need the Saturday cleaning in order to escape the reoccurrence of that 2015 and 2017 mishaps.

Conclusively, it is also an undisputable fact that since the reintroduction of the Monthly cleaning activities in April 2018, Freetown has not got any major challenge relating to natural disaster mainly caused by flooding. The monthly cleaning activities initially started sanitizing the sanitation system and hygienic protocols within the Western Area. However, since that indefinite suspension of the monthly cleaning activities, the city has started degenerating to its perennial status of being a grimy city. In order to avert this, also in order to invigorate our early boastfulness  that our Capital city (Freetown), has started matching with countries that are deemed to be cleaned countries, we need a concerted effort to resuscitate our initial Vim and Vigor towards the monthly cleaning activities. We need to see wherein the president, First Lady and senior government officials and state actors taking to the street again, inculcating the culture in citizens to take the monthly cleaning seriously. For far too long our authorities have been known for good policy pronouncement, but lack the ability to implement that policy to the latter.  With these few words from the Courier, I will conclude by giving some generalized recommendations to citizens and government in order to revamp the Monthly cleaning activities.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  1. Since the monthly cleaning activities are very instrumental towards disaster control and prevention mainly caused by flooding, and also taking into cognizance that the monthly cleaning activity is part of the president’s Executive Orders, it would be prudent if government would revert the suspension on monthly general cleaning exercise in order to prevent flooding.
  1. That government MUST revamp the initial vim and vigor in ensuring that the monthly cleaning activity is treated seriously.
  2. It is not a secret that the monthly cleaning exercise costs government a colossal sum of money, also notwithstanding the fact that government is financially challenged especially during this covid-19 era, it would equally be of essence for the Ministry of Finance to reconsider allocating the initial funds to the Ministry of Local Government, for the continuity of the monthly cleaning activity.
  3. That Local Government Ministry in synergy with City Council should start focusing on the cleaning/clearing of drainages within the Municipality in order to prevent flooding. 
  4. That the Ministry of Environment should expedite the evacuation and relocation process of residents residing along disaster prone areas, in order to avert possible disaster especially during this period of torrential rainfall.