Mother and child made to sleep in open
September 9, 2015 By Alusine Sesay
Hawa Kabba is a lactating mother who resides at Crab Town in the Aberdeen creek.The demolition of her home by the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs has made life uncomfortable for her and her three-month-old baby.
“I spent the whole of the night in the open with my child. I have nowhere to go and my husband cannot afford to rent a decent place for us,” she said amid tears.
Madam Kabba, who is housewife, told Concord Times she has four children and that she has been residing at Crab Town with her husband for over four years. “My husband is a masoner and this is the only place he could afford for us to stay,” she said.
But the place she used to call home has now been reduced to rubble after the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs last week embarked on a controversial massive demolition of shacks along the Aberdeen creek, on the beach front.
Crab Town, along the Aberdeen creek, is one of the worst affected communities. Residents were shocked last week when they woke up in the morning and were greeted by a demolition team of bulldozers and the police.
“We were not informed about the decision to demolish our homes. We cannot challenge the government and we would have decided on other options should we have been adequately informed,” said Sahr Fomba, father of four.
Crab Town is one of the Ebola hard hit communities in Freetown with a record loss of many lives. For some residents like Mohamed Allie Nabay, the demolition has added salt to their injuries.
“I lost my entire family to the Ebola Virus Disease. I also lost my job and my life has now completely been shattered by this demolition,” narrated Nabay.
One of the impacts of the 11 years rebel war in Sierra Leone is the issue of congestion in the capital, Freetown. With housing being so expensive, many people who migrated from the provinces to escape the conflict decided to stay in slum communities, despite the dangers. They occupy the slum communities illegally.
“We have no documents to stay here and we are not paying tax to anybody. We are only staying here because we have no alternative,” said John Bona.
Meanwhile, the demolition has affected the community in diverse ways. With a population of approximately 7,000 with children making the bulk, most have been affected by the demolition.
“Our children cannot go to school because our entire lives are completely in disarray. I have two children who are writing the West African Senior Secondary School Certificate examination, but they could not because of this demolition,” said Alimamy Kamara.
Residents also told Concord Times that men brought by the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs stole their properties.
“They came with some thieves who catered away some of our properties. I am a businessman and I lost my bag containing several phones,” claimed Mohamed Kamara.
The demolition of illegal structures in Freetown and other parts of the country could have huge political ramifications.
The government of late Dr. Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah became very unpopular due to a massive demolition exercise spearheaded by then Minister of Lands and Country Planning, Dr. Bobson Sesay.
The party lost the 2007 general elections to the All People’s Congress party, who garnered huge support from affected communities, especially those living in the slums.
“My foot got broken in a campaign rally for the APC and this is what I got from them. After the Ebola brought untold suffering to us, we are again faced with demolition,” expressed Emmanuel Samura.
Many who spoke to Concord Times vowed to vote against the governing APC in the upcoming 2018 general elections.