Lest we forget Freetonians - the Rains are here!
Over the weekend, we witnessed the first heavy rainfall in the year. The weather forecast was so bad that the Mayor of Freetown was compelled to raise an alert and an emergency call line was introduced.
As I drive through downtown Freetown, meandering through Krootown road, via Kroo-bay to Connaught Hospital, images of the Kroo-bay victims during the last rains stared at me. The big question is: Were any lessons learnt? The Kroo-bay community is still intact. Plans for relocation have not materialised year after year and it appears business continues as normal when the season rolls over.
In 2020, some will argue that COVID-19 is squarely to be blamed for the punctuation in the cleaning exercises and thus the overflow of our mini gutters. Our 'Samba gutter' debris tells the story, cruising and emptying into THE sea side communities where some of our most vulnerable populations are located.
The potential for deadly flooding in Freetown is exacerbated by its topography which alternates between thickly wooded and partially deforested hills. These hills run along the peninsula parallel to the Atlantic for nearly 25 miles. Freetown's elevation varies from coastal areas which are near sea level to approximately 400 meters above.
The mudslide of August 14, 2017 remains an eye sore at the Regent community. Following three days of torrential rainfall, mass mud and debris damaged or destroyed buildings, killing about 1000 people and leaving approximately more than 3,000 homeless. Again! Sierra Leone was on the international news for the wrong reasons.
What is clear and speaks loudly as you drive either uphill or downhill Freetown is that the construction of large homes in hillside areas and unrestricted deforestation for residential purposes has weakened the stability of nearby slopes and caused significant soil erosion.
We are in another rainy season and this time we have a massive chip riding alongside called COVID-19. I am just beginning to wonder - Is it not time for a national dialogue on our own behaviours, sanitation and the future of Freetown?
Over to you our Urban planners and Policy makers!
Grab a copy of your facts - based Sierra News Newspaper every Tuesday and Thursday!
As I journey through and ink the Sierra News Newspaper, I will try as best as possible to help YOU separate facts from fiction and become that savvy media information literate citizen.
I am looking forward to reading, sharing and proactively responding to your letters to the Editor-in-Chief. I am here to serve you!
Yeama Sarah Thompson