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Sambaia Bendugu residents doubtful about ‘Agenda for Prosperity’

October 14, 2015 By Mohamed Massaquoi

Some residents of Sambaia Bendugu chiefdom in the Tonkolili District, northern Sierra Leone, have expressed doubt over whether they would achieve the much trumpeted prosperity by the government as they lack basic amenities such as clean drinking water, good roads and reliable mobile network connectivity.

The concerned residents accused the government of complete marginalisation as the mineral rich chiefdom lacks basic amenities, with many residents having to travel for over 60 miles to Bumbuna town in order to access market to sell their wares. Yet the chiefdom hosts one of the biggest mining companies in the country, Shandong, previously African Minerals.

“We are suffering in this part of the country. Our chiefdom is beyond Bumbuna and most government officers prefer to stay in Bumbuna rather than coming over to us to actually see what is happening and see some of the challenges we are faced with as community people,” said youth leader Sheku Thoronka.

Thoronka noted that even though mining activities are taking place in the chiefdom there is lack of police presence, and that criminal matters are transferred to Bumbuna for investigation.

“We are here only by the grace of God. It’s only the chiefs that are arbitrating on matters in this entire chiefdom,” he said. “Most perpetrators of sexual violence often run away to evade justice.”

Mohamed Marrah, a resident of the deprived mining town, said: “Our girl children are not protected because there is an increase in crime, especially sexual and gender-based violence. It is unfortunate that government is not focusing on this chiefdom. The chiefdom has over 3,000 residents but none of the mobile phone companies in the country has installed their services in this part of the country, despite claims of nationwide coverage.

“We have to travel over three miles from the township to this hill where we do our communication. It is difficult to get direct information from Freetown and other parts of the country, that is the reason we have permanently deployed one of our youths to be on top of the hills so that he can communicate with our relatives outside this community and relay the message to us back home. We are asking for the intervention of government and other humanitarian organisations.”

Meanwhile, residents have also urged humanitarian organisations to timely intervene as poverty and malnutrition are prevalent in the chiefdom, which apparently is abandoned by both the government and non-governmental organisations.

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