January 28, 2019
By Joseph S. Margai
Tombo, a fishing community in the Western Area Rural District, is currently grappling with poor sanitation, ranging from the lack of proper toilet facility to an acute shortage of water.
Concord Times found out last weekend that the only available water dam in the community is too small to retain enough water to serve a population of about 37,000,who are predominantly fishermen and women.
Sara Bah, village headman of the community, told Concord Times that the area lacks proper toilet facility, as most of those constructed around the wharf (the landing site for both passengers and fishing vessels) were weakened by the beach sand.
“The major problem is that because of the too much sand around the houses that are closer to the wharf, anytime someone digs a hole to construct a toilet, the sand will break, fall and refill the hole again. For those that are staying far away from the wharf, they can construct proper toilet facilities,” he said.
Headman Bah urged the need for the erection of better and improved toilet facility for both public and private use, so as to ease the stress on traders who conduct daily transactions at the wharf.
“We also have traders coming from far away districts and towns to sell their agricultural products, as well as to buy foodstuff and other items to use at home. These people should have proper toilet and water facilities. But our current situation with regards water supply and toilet facility are not conducive for such people,” he stated, thus urging the need for the construction of another dam to serve the 37,000 people in the community.
In another development, it was reported that in April 2016, the European Union Commission gave a ‘yellow card’ to Sierra Leone for her non-compliance in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
According to the then Head of European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone, Ambassador Peter Versteeg, the decision was taken to have countries fully respect their international obligations.
Due to the EU ban on fish from Sierra Leone, primarily because of poor handling, the World Bank supported West Africa Regional Fisheries Programme (WARFP) constructed improved landing sites in four fishing communities in Tombo, Shenge, Goderich and Bonthe.
Even though it is unknown as to whether those landing sites are in effective operation in other coastal communities, but headman Bah told Concord Times that the one at Tombo was currently not in use because it was rocky and could easily destroy their wooden boats.
In 2010, the government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources banned the use of monofilament fishing net.
Asked as to whether fishermen have ceased using such net, he replied that they have acquired improved fishing net, albeit they were in a limited supply in the country’s market.
He cited the absence of a cooling system in Tombo community as another challenge facing fishermen, noting that they currently purchase ice cubes from vendors on a daily basis.
“We don’t have electricity supply here to produce ice cubes. As for the wharf, we have solar panels installed there but many of them have stopped working,” he said.
Despite the numerous challenges he highlighted, Bah expressed gratitude to the government for the reduction in the pump prices of petroleum products, which, he said has significantly helped boat owners, fishermen and fish mongers.
“I want to specifically thank President Julius Maada Bio for reducing the pump prices of fuel in the country. This is the first time that I have heard of something that has gone up and reduced again. This ‘New Direction’ government is serious about our welfare,” he expressed.