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Bonthe Islanders fear imminent flood as sea wall collapses

October 24, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai

Inhabitants of Bonthe Sherbro Island are worried that flooding could wreak havoc on the island after a perimeter wall that was erected to bank high sea waters collapsed.

In a telephone interview with Mayor of Bonthe Municipal Council, His Worship Layemin Sandi described the situation as worrisome for the inhabitants.

“Early on Monday morning [17 October], we saw the Bonthe market and the main roads flooded. Water from the sea entered the island as a result of the collapse of the sea-face-wall. The causes of this varies, but a major factor could be the general rise in the sea level due to the melting of ice at the poles and lack of adequate drainage infrastructure,” Mayor Sandi said.

He disclosed that over the years the municipality had been neglected by the Government of Sierra Leone as the ‘national cake’ was not being evenly distributed.

He said he had been reporting all the issues affecting them to relevant authorities in Freetown and Bo, but that nothing was being done to address them.

“What is worrying us now about the collapse of the sea-face-wall is that government has been giving deaf ears to the numerous concerns that were affecting us, and we don’t think its attention will be directed to this problem. Believe me, people’s lives are at risk if nothing is done to arrest the current situation. This situation deserves urgent attention and it is not about politics, but it is about people’s safety,” Mayor Sandi said.

There is popular belief that most people are afraid to travel to Bonthe Sherbro Island for fear of imminent high seas, but Mayor Sandi allayed their fears, averring that since he was born in the municipality, no such incident had occurred.

“That is the excuse advanced by many people who are mostly transferred here to work. But they have never heard about any collapse of boat leading to the death of people. It’s just neglect by people who think they cannot get rich if they come here to work,” he said angrily.

He called on the government, well-wishers, and non-governmental organisations to help the people of Bonthe Island reconstruct the sea-faced-wall.

Bonthe Island is 32 miles long and 15 miles wide, covering an average area of approximately 230 square miles. It has a population of over 10,000 inhabitants. It was a site of an early 19th century British post against the slave trade, which was acquired from the Sherbro people by the Freetown Colony in 1861. The island was strategic in developing the colonial economy and was Sierra Leone’s first administrative capital and municipality.

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