January 26, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
Residents of the notorious ‘Bormeh’ dumpsite in the east-end of Freetown and those around the vicinity are at risk of contracting diseases like malaria, cholera, chronic obstructive lung disease and restrictive lung disease.
Already, some residents have been grappling with mosquito bites, flies, cockroaches, snakes and rodents, while persistent inhalation of smoke and dust poses serious health threat to thousands who reside in the vicinity.
Idrissa Lahai, chairman of residents around the ‘Bormeh’ dumpsite, has been residing in the area since 1995, and has five children, all of whom live with him.
He disclosed that during the rains flies, mosquitoes and other insects swarm the area, causing diseases like cholera and malaria, adding that the site has approximately 30 makeshift structures and 60 inhabitants.
Chairman Lahai said their primary livelihood is collecting scrap metals and water plastics, noting that a kilogram of recycled water plastics is sold at Le5,000.
“We decided to reside here because it is very difficult to get a place in Freetown, and landlords have been increasing the rent for houses every now and again,” he said.
He disclosed that an organisation called Street Child has been providing support to them to pay their children’s school fees and warned them strictly against taking their children to the dumpsite, as such would lead to cancellation of the scholarship award.
A resident at the Race Course community, which is very close to the ‘Bormeh’ dumpsite, Aminata Kamara, complained about the dangerous smoke that emits from the site daily. She said some of the residents had been diagnosed with tuberculosis as a result and expressed fear that more fatalities could result if nothing is done about the environmental pollution.
Damage to the environment poses a huge risk to residents, but houses continue to spring up while those who have made the site their home are not intent on leaving, at least not anytime soon.
Public Relations Officer at the Freetown City Council (FCC), Cyril Mattia, said the FCC did not issue any building permits to residents of the ‘Bormeh’ dumpsite and does not recognise the existence of the residents.
He said the parents who reside at the site with children are “killing their own children, because there are snakes, flies, and mosquitoes which are very hostile to human beings.
“The smoke they are complaining about is caused by them because they are the very ones that put fire on the wastes so that they could get space to construct their makeshift structures,” said Mr. Mattia. “People have taken over all the dustbins in Freetown to construct permanent structures and this is a worrisome situation for us at the council.”
Medical experts have stated that dust causes lung function impairment, chronic obstructive lung disease, restrictive lung disease, pneumoconiosis and carcinoma of the lungs, stomach and colon.
According to Health Blurbs, sustained smoke inhalation or inhaling smoke highly concentrated in certain poisonous chemicals can cause serious long lasting health effects, combination of heat damage, pulmonary irritation, oxygen deprivation and even death.