May 10, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai
Paramount chief of Libiesaygahun Chiefdom in the Bombali district, northern Sierra Leone, Bai Yankay Kargbo II, has blamed underdevelopment in the chiefdom on the horrible condition of roads leading to the chiefdom headquarter town of Batkanu, among several other challenges.
He made the above observation in an interview with Concord Times at his residence in Batkanu, where he also stated that they have not been benefiting from development like other chiefdoms in Bombali district, because of the poor road network.
P.C Bai Yankay Kargbo II said Batkanu is isolated and that residents have been living in a solitary confinement.
“The road networks from Makoth to Batkanu and from Port Loko to Batkanu are very poor. This is the reason for the underdeveloped state of this chiefdom. The chiefdom has been neglected for long now,” he lamented.
“Another reason behind the underdevelopment of this chiefdom is that we have never got a Member of Parliament (MP) that hailed from this chiefdom over the last 40 years. In all of the previous parliamentary elections, the winners have been residents of Gbedembu Ngowahun chiefdom. Gendembu Ngowahun has a population of about 28,000 and we are about 16,000, so, they always have the MP. We don’t have anyone to channel our problems at that high level.”
He disclosed that in June or July every year, residents of the township are always cut-off as a result of the deplorable state of the road, adding that “nobody goes in and out of the town during the rainy season.
“We only have one escape route which is a ferryboat to Mateboi village, where we can find our way to Makeni and Freetown,” he said.
He said residents of the chiefdom are predominantly farmers, cultivating crops and rearing animals, adding that most of the agricultural products have been left to perish because of the poor road network.
“In the dry season, when the road network is good, business people come to purchase rice, groundnut, benny, garie, goats, sheep and cattle,” he disclosed.
He further cited the unavailability of seedlings for farmers as another major challenge which the chiefdom was grappling with.
He said the chiefdom has three telecommunications networks but only Sierratel was functional in Batkanu.
P.C Bai Yankay Kargbo II disclosed that the township of Batkanu, with a population of over 5,000, has only one running hand-pump well.
“There are many hand-pump wells in the town but all of them are defunct. As a result, many people resort to sourcing drinking water from an unprotected stream. They also launder their clothes at the same stream. Water from the stream is sometimes very reddish in colour and most people could not drink it,” he stated.
He called on the government of Sierra Leone, donor partners and other well-wishers to intervene and help ameliorate the plights of the chiefdom.