May 20, 2016 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara & Memunatu Bangura
The Minister of Water Resources yesterday told journalists at the weekly government press briefing that government would soon demolish houses constructed on water catchment areas in the Western Area.
Momodu Maligie said the acute water shortage in the country was not unconnected to illegal structures constructed very close to the Guma Valley dams, cutting of water pipes and illicit connection of pipes.
“All the reserve of water catchment areas have dried out and certain individuals have encroached on those places and constructed beautiful mansions,” he said.
He said most of those who have built houses in catchment areas are government officials and vowed that action would be taken against such individuals. “We are going to demolish those houses as soon as Parliament reviews the 1964 Guma Act and jail people who entered into such land deal,” said the youthful minister.
Mr Maligie was appointed in 2012 in the wake of euphoria that greeted the second and final term election victory of President Ernest Koroma, who went on to create a separate Water Resources.
However, he has faced torrid times recently as the capital, Freetown, and other provincial towns and cities face acute water shortage.
The minister though insists that the ministry’s mandate was to perform oversight functions in the water sector and that the crisis was only brought to the notice of the ministry about a month ago, adding that he took immediate steps to respond to the crisis.
He revealed that they have also received funds from the Chinese government to construct groundwater sources to improve on the water supply in the city, while investments were ongoing for the Rokel River – some 40 miles from the capital city – to supply the entire city.
The minister admitted that this year’s crisis is the worst, compared to previous years, and blamed the phenomenon on heavy deforestation around the dams and vowed that the crisis would never reoccur.
He disclosed that the ministry would soon introduce a smart metre system that would control the supply of water to customers, reduce fraud and increase the revenue base of the water sector.
The current water crisis in the country has forced the Ministry of Water Resources to institute extra measures of taking water bowsers to deprived communities, mostly in the east of the city, as immediate measures to cushion the effect of the crisis.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Internal Affairs also addressed the presser that he had declared war on Commercial Motorbike riders that ply the Central Business District (CBD).
Motor bike riding is a common phenomenon among thousands of unemployed youths, but lawlessness among riders is on the increase with series of reported cases of accidents.
Alfred Palo Conteh told newsmen that his ministry would intensify a crackdown on motor bike riders, school children and market women who engage in some kind of lawless and indiscipline.
“Market women and school children are the next group of people that I will focus on after the commercial bike rides. I am confident that after the 100 days, sanity will prevail in the CBD,” he said.
The erstwhile defence minister noted that commercial bike riders persistently disobey traffic rules, refuse to register their bikes, and engage in activities as though they were in a jungle.
“I don’t ask for a pound of flesh from the commercial bike riders. I am picking a fight with them to curb lawlessness in the city,” he said.
Also, Minister of Energy Ambassador Henry Macauley explained reasons behind the recent power outage and apologised to the public.
He said the Bumbuna hydro dam had been shut down and was undergoing a ten-day annual maintenance that started Monday, 16 May.
Ambassador Macauley admitted that there were challenges in the energy sector during the dry season, but promised that his ministry was working assiduously to ensure adequate supply of electricity not only in the city but nationwide.