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Failure to Erect Retaining Wall Irks Bonthe Islanders

September 26, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai

Flooding caused collapse of the retaining wall

Residents of Bonthe Sherbro Island are irked over the failure of the central government to re-erect the collapsed retaining wall but a senior Ministry of Works, Housing and Infrastructure official has informed Concord Times that his ministry was unaware of the situation.

Bonthe Island, which is in southern Sierra Leone, is 32 miles long and 15 miles wide, covering an average area of approximately 230 square miles with its western extremity been Cape Ann. It was once a citadel of political, educational and social activities, a melting pot of economic boom and the birth place of siblings of the colonial masters and great men and women of today.

Mayor of Bonthe Municipal Council, Joe Layemin Sandi, told this reporter in an interview last week that since the retaining wall collapsed two years ago, he had made several appeals to both central and local government officials to reconstruct it but his efforts have fallen on deaf ears.

Mayor Sandi recalled that early on Monday, on 17 October, 2016 they saw Bonthe market centre and main roads flooded, adding that the flooding was caused by water from the sea entering into the township because of the collapsed retaining wall.

He cited the recent flooding that occurred in Freetown on 14 August and predicted that if nothing is done in Bonthe Sherbro Island by government with regards the reconstruction of the collapsed retaining wall, the resultant flooding would be worst in Bonthe than the one in Freetown.

“The roads are also deplorable and contractors of First Tricon Construction Company who started to construct the roads in the municipality two years ago have abandoned the work without explaining the reasons to us. The potholes are left uncovered and drainages are left unconstructed, making them becoming deathtraps,” he explained.

He revealed that islanders have voluntarily started to mine sand from the beach in order to temporarily reconstruct the collapsed retaining wall.

“We are mobilising as a community to do a presentation to President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma about the deplorable conditions of the municipality of Bonthe. The presentation would mainly focus on two issues – the collapse of the retaining wall which has a potential to cause flooding to the islanders, and the poor road network in the municipality,” he said.

Quizzed whether the construction of the retaining wall was captured in the council’s 2017 budget, Mayor Sandi said it was not because such work did not fall under council’s purview but the Ministry of Works, Housing and Infrastructure.

He disclosed that the First Tricon Construction Company, which was contracted to construct roads in Bonthe municipality, did the assessment for the erection of the retaining wall.

“All the arrangements have been between the central government and First Tricon. The council has never been given an update of the assessment. I have instructed the Chief Administrator to write a letter to the Director General of Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) to officially inform her about the situation of the retaining wall,” he said.

However, Professional Head of the Ministry of Works, Housing and Infrastructure, Edward Silma, denied his ministry has knowledge of the collapsed retaining wall in Bonthe Sherbro Island.

“I’m only hearing it from you now. The Member of Parliament, mayor, or paramount chief should have written an official letter to the Minister of Works, Housing and Infrastructure and copy the Permanent Secretary and Professional Head of the collapsed retaining wall and what is needed to be done. But that has never been done,” he stated.

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