March 21, 2016 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara
Residents at Kroo Bay, Sierra Leone’s largest slum community, have called on the government and non-governmental organisations to re-construct the bridge that connects the community and central Freetown.
They blame the 16 September, 2015 flooding on the poor state of the bridge.
Chief Alimamy Kabompa told Concord Times that he had made several calls to government and other well-meaning organisations to reconstruct the bridge, but to no avail.
He explained that throughout his forty-five years stay in the community, all previous floods have been largely due to the bad shape of the bridge.
He therefore urged the government to “remove the slum from the people rather than removing people from the slum,” in reference to Kenya, where he said the capital is straddled with slums, but the government has put mechanisms in place to prevent flooding.
“This community was established in 1945. There are over 15,000 inhabitants here. To have them relocated is not an easy deal. I have lived here for over 40 years and it would be difficult for government to remove us without proper preparation. We want the government to help us reconstruct this bridge as the raining season is just behind the corner,” he pleads.
Kroo Bay has experienced flooding for the past three successive rainy seasons. Last year, slum communities in the Freetown Municipality experienced heavy flooding that left about four people dead, while over 12,000 were displaced.
The government responded by relocating hundreds of flood victims to Mile Six, just at the outskirt of the city, but some people had refused to take the opportunity and decided to return at Kroo Bay despite the looming disaster.
When asked as to why some of them refused to go to Mile Six, Mohamed Papani Kargbo, community secretary-general, accused authorities of stage-managing the repatriation process.
He alleged that most of those that were relocated to Mile Six were just ‘criminals’ who have been on the streets aimlessly and looking for opportunity.
James Jones Kargbo, a teacher at Kroo Bay community, stated that many people have encroached on the water-ways, thus making it impossible for water to flow freely.
People still continue to stay in disaster prone areas despite government’s effort to relocate them. With barely a month into the raining season, climate change experts have warned that the country will experience heavy down pour this year.
Sierra Leone is ranked 138 out of 172 countries that are prone to natural disaster, according to the World Risk Index calculated by the United Nations University for Environment and Human Security.