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Sierra Leone

Maada Bio – the hard road ahead – part 3

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Abayomi Tejan: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 August 2019:

The fight against corruption in Sierra Leone has begun. It is on course and gathering traction, under the fearless leadership of Mr Francis Ben Kaifala, the Commissioner of the country’s Anti- Corruption Commission.  Kaifala’s real strength lies with president Julius Maada Bio, from whom all power derives, as well as ensuring that the ACC Commissioner performs his job unimpeded.

Thus far, there is nothing to suggest that the Commissioner is under any form of intimidation, duress or undue interference. His indictment, prosecution and conviction of corrupt public officials, and the amount of stolen money he has recovered so far, is impressive.

The Anti-Corruption Act gives considerable powers to the Commissioner to investigate anyone suspected of corruption, including the president, let alone parliamentarians, ministers and public servants. The Act spreads a wide net that covers a lot of ground. There is little room for cover when the shelling begins. ‘Small arms fire’ has already done a lot of damage to several corruption networks and their infrastructures.

During his elections campaign last year, president Bio said that he was going to wage war against corruption. He also warned his ministers and appointees that there would be no ‘diplomatic’ cover or immunity for anyone.

By so doing, the president has drawn the eyes of all unto himself. The opposition is primed, sleuthing, even hypothesizing for a reason, one, just one, reason to suggest that president Bio was not as honest as he would have the nation believe.

“We expect corruption to fight back,” the president has pointed out, with a hint at his own preparedness for the consequences.

The stakes are high indeed; and there is much vengeance brewing in the opposition. And just as much apprehension, that sooner or later, one of them would be railed in by the ACC.

Much has changed since 2002, when the first real democratic elections were held, giving Tejan Kabbah the opportunity to tie up loose ends.

Some journalists raised the issue of corruption to a high profile delegation from the UN in 2001. The following year, the ACC was born; the team from the Security Council had listened to the journalists, apparently.

With the UN – a sine-qua-non to the establishment of the ACC, and gawking at the government, fighting corruption became an entrenched clause in manifesto after manifesto. The APC’s ‘Agenda for Change’ promised ‘zero tolerance’ for corruption. To demonstrate his resolve, former president Koroma removed the obnoxious clause in the Act that required the approval of the Attorney General before a corruption matter could be charged to court.

This played right into the hands of Abdul Tejan Cole, the young ACC Commissioner then, who, armed with autonomy and absolute discretion, did the unthinkable. He indicted and convicted a serving Cabinet minister, Hafsatu Kabbah, who lost her job; and the politicians consorted how they might get rid of him.

When Mr Tejan Cole went off the radar not too long thereafter, rumours made the rounds. Some threats from anonymous sources were topical. He resigned, rather unceremoniously. Since then, all future appointees to the ACC as Commissioner, needed no reminding as to the sanctity of serving ministers. There would be no more indictment, as it were, unless sanctioned by the president. Then something happened.

The Vice President then, Sam Sumana (Photo), was allegedly caught on camera negotiating a timber deal with some Arab looking investor. The ACC launched an investigation, the media played it out aggressively.

The video recording of the alleged corruption scene was scrappy, inaudible at some sections.

Although the VP was shown apparently in his office with the ‘fake’ investigator, the hidden camera did not reveal enough to support a charge, let alone a conviction.

Mr Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, the next ACC Commissioner after Tejan Cole, closed the file. He was later appointed Attorney General. He would later run for flagbearer of the APC in 2018, but his bid was ignored by president Ernest Bai Koroma – chairman and leader of the party.

Such was the relationship between the APC and the ACC. But now things have changed. President Bio has regrouped, closed ranks and is calling the shots. The ACC is at war, again. Up against an enemy that could turn out to be as confounding as Hafsatu Kabbah was to Koroma.

Only that in this case, under the New Direction, such a victim would have himself or herself to blame. The ACC Commissioner – Francis Ben Kaifala (Photo),  is not the type given to rumour; neither to stampede into an investigation on the frivolous tip-off of some mischievous informer. Nor would he be inclined to countenance insidious speculation in a media, cut straight between the government and opposition. Much least, buying into the pantomime on social media where anything and everything goes.

Mr Kaifala needs the evidence, hard evidence. In a society long accustomed to corruption, where the attitude towards fighting corruption is one of passive acquiescence, the ACC Commissioner should not expect much from the public by way of cogent information.

The prospects of standing in a witness box, giving evidence against someone who would eventually lose his/her job, or go to jail, or both, is not in the DNA of most Sierra Leoneans. Corruption is much too commonplace for such a sacrifice, and the crime rate and reprisal killings on record, make for fearful premonition for such a witness.

The Auditor General’s reports since 2012, the leads coming out of the ongoing Commissions of Inquiry, the unexplained wealth, unclaimed properties of political suspects, provide more than enough ammunition to the ACC for a long battle. Kaifala must go after the evidence, and not wait for it to come to him.

The free education project has thrown in far more reaching ramifications than achieving universal quality education for all. It has opened a new battle front in the anti-corruption campaign that has rattled the teaching service, and WAEC – the West African Examination Council.

Corruption in schools is under attack. Tertiary institutions have come under the grill. This is bound to spill over to calling into question the qualifications of current employees in the government’s payroll.

There is so much the ACC has on its plate, other than stalking politicians. The Public Procurement Sector provides a hot bed, needing constant surveillance. This is where government spends the bulk of the people’s money.

The Commissioner is going to be very busy, taking prisoners. This is something that is being watched closely – the relationship between President Julius Maada Bio, the ACC Commissioner, and all the available evidence, in this their audacious fight against the greatest enemy of the state – corruption. So help them God.

Sierra Leone

EU provides funding for victims of flooding in Freetown – but more needed

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Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 August 2019:

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, has announced that in response to the floods in Freetown earlier this month, the European Union is providing €80,000 in humanitarian funding to assist those most affected.

This EU funding will support the Red Cross in delivering much needed relief assistance, including water, sanitation and health, psychosocial support, and health promotion activities. The humanitarian aid will directly benefit 1,800 people (300 households), who had their homes destroyed in the flooding.

The funding is part of the EU’s overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone has experienced persistent torrential rains since late May. The resulting floods damaged houses, road networks and destroyed the livelihoods of approximately 896 households (5,381 people).

According a report by the International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies, Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone has been experiencing persistent torrential rains from late May 2019 to August 2019.

The highest recorded incident was the August 2nd rainfall causing associated impacts, including flooding in low lying areas as well as new episodes of landslides on low scale in the eastern part of the city.

The main road to the city’s centre was rendered impassable due to the flood waters, heavily constraining vehicles and pedestrians having to find alternative routes. The city continues to experience more rainfall which may cause more flooding and spread to additional communities which would further increase the number of affected people.

The floods and landslides were triggered by a heavy and continuous downpour that was experienced on 1st August 2019 from 10:00pm until the next morning on 2nd August 2019.

The raging floods resulted in substantial destruction of houses, road networks and destroyed the livelihoods of approximately 896 households (5,381 people) according to the results of the rapid needs assessment (RNA) conducted by the Office of National Security (ONS) in collaboration with other humanitarian actors in disaster management.

The Office of National Security reported that the floods have already claimed many lives, and more people, especially lactating mothers, pregnant women and children, are likely to face the risks of illness from water-borne diseases.

The International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies’s report says that owing to stagnation of dirt and pool of ponds, it is likely that malaria will be on the increase. This is a potential threat to people, especially those living in the affected communities.

The abundance of contaminated water with limited WASH facilities are a basis for majority people living in the affected communities to be exposed to diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera.

In addition, the flood has undermined the livelihood opportunities of people in the affected communities as it destroyed crops as well as submerged food stuff in some of the affected households which consequently result to malnutrition especially for children under five years of age.

Based on this background, there is a need for a multi-stage response, linking relief and recovery interventions for the affected populations.

It is on account of these details that Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRCS) and its Movement partners including IFRC, BRC and FRC are exerting efforts to embark on life-saving activities (assistance programme).

SLRCS says it will continue to monitor and assess the flood situation as it evolves, remaining agile for further action to save lives.

But is the 80,000 Euros funding from the EU enough to tackle the impacts of the floods? And what is the government doing to prevent these deadly occurrences in the future?

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Sierra Leone

SLPP female veteran Hadja Daramy dies in Freetown

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Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 August 2019:

The death is reported of Hadja Hawa Khadar Daramy, the wife of the late Honourable Dr Sheikh Batu Daramy, who was the first Financial Secretary of Sierra Leone and a Member of Parliament representing the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP).

She passed away in the early hours of this morning, today Wednesday, 21st August 2019, at 34 Military Hospital, Freetown, Sierra Leone. She was 97 years old.

Mama Daramy as she is fondly called, and her beloved husband, SB Daramy, were among SLPP’s oldest members. When political dispensation was introduced in Sierra Leone in 1992, Hon. Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy left the Ministry of Finance where he was working and took part in active politics in the SLPP.

He stood for election as Presidential candidate. At a point when no one would step forward and register the SLPP, Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy and his wife, Hadja Hawa Daramy (Khadar), used their personal funds to register the party.

Although he did now succeed in his bid, he proved himself as a loyalist and one of the original SLPP members. He would move on to become a Member of Parliament. Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy died over 20 years ago.

Hadja Hawa Khadar Daramy is survived by her daughters, Mariama Daramy-Lewis (Grand Chief Patron SLPP), Marta Daramy and Kumba Hutt; her sons – Ambassador Soulay Daramy, SB Daramy Jr, Dr. Sheriff and IB Daramy, as well as several grandchildren, notably Charles Tabansi and Naiomi Lewis who spent the later part of her life caring for her.

During Hadja Hawa Khadar Daramy’s final days at 34 Hospital, she was cared for by Ambassador Soulay, SB Jr, Mariama and her daughter-in-law, Afiju Daramy.

Funeral will be held in Freetown on 31st August 2019. Details of funeral arrangements to follow.

May Mama Daramy rest in perfect peace. God bless her wonderful doctors Dr Cole, Dr Soccoh Kabia and Dr. Johana and nurses at 34 Hospital. (Photp Below: Dr SB Daramy and his beloved wife – Hadja Hawa Daramy)

Remembering the late Honorable Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy Sr

17th March 2019, marked the 20th Anniversary of the passing away of HONORABLE, DR. SHEIKH BATU DARAMY SR, aka, SB Daramy.

Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy, Sr. B.Sc (Economics from London School of Economics, UK), M.A., Ph.D from Howard University, was born on 20th September, 1920 in Makeni.

Today we remember one of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) oldest members. In 1948, Hon. Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy was awarded a Sierra Leone Government scholarship to attend the London School of Economics from where he graduated in 1952 with a B.Sc in Economics.

Afterwards, Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy returned to Sierra Leone at which point he was promoted to the position of Labour Officer in the Senior Service of the Government of Sierra Leone.

In 1956, Hon. Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy passed the Intermediate LL.B degree of London University. He was subsequently promoted to Deputy Commissioner of Labour here in Sierra Leone, and he finally became Commissioner of Labour in 1960. To complement all these successes, he was also promoted Deputy Financial Secretary here in Sierra Leone.

In 1963, Sir Milton Margai, the first Prime Minister of Independent Sierra Leone, promoted Daramy to the position of Financial Secretary.

When the first opposition party, the All Peoples Congress (APC) came to power in 1968, Daramy and a host of SLPP members were arrested and sixteen (16) of them were charged with treason and felony. Daramy served 3 years six months in jail while ten (10) others were sentenced to death by hanging. On appeal after 3 years six months Hon. Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy was released.

He was exiled in the UK and subsequently moved on to the United States where he would go on to work at Howard University and earn in Ph.D degree in African Studies with distinction. Upon his return to Freetown, he would work at Fourah Bay College as Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Science for two years. He also moved on to work at the Ministry of Finance as Economic Adviser.

When political dispensation was introduced in 1992, Hon. Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy left the Ministry of Finance and took part in active politics in the SLPP. He stood for the election as a Presidential candidate.

At a point when no one would step forward and register the SLPP, Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy and his wife, Hadja Hawa Daramy (Khadar), used their personal funds to register the party. Although he did now succeed in his bid, he proved himself as a loyalist and one of the original SLPP members. He would move on to become a Member of Parliament.

Sheikh Batu Daramy published a book in 1993 entitled “Constitutional Developments in the Post-Colonial State of Sierra Leone 1961 – 1984”.

On 29th March 1999 he was laid in the State Hall of Parliament, Parliament Building, Freetown. He was fondly remembered by his fellow Colleagues, Family and Friends.

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Sierra Leone

A legacy of youth empowerment in Sierra Leone

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Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 August 2019:

It is not often that a 33-year-old is made a minister in Africa. Mohammed Orman Bangura is gaining popularity in Sierra Leone for substantive work and for his style. Reporting for Africa Renewal, Osman Benk Sankoh says that the youth affairs minister, is determined to prove that young people in positions of authority can make a lasting impact in citizens’ lives.

This is Osman Benk Sankoh’s report:

Orman Bangura’s life journey has been a remarkable one. The death of his father when he was a toddler devastated the family’s finances. At the time, his widowed mother thought her son’s best shot at a good life was becoming a tailor or a baker. At just 11 years old, Mr. Bangura enlisted as an apprentice in a tailoring shop.

Fast-forward to 2019, and the 33-year-old Bangura is Sierra Leone’s minister of youth affairs, the youngest minister in the cabinet.

He credits his mother for ensuring his focus on education. “She made all the sacrifices for me,” he says. After his secondary school education, Mr. Bangura received a government grant to attend Fourah Bay College, the University of Sierra Leone, where he graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

His professional career includes finance and accounting positions with several institutions in his country. These were the Standard Chartered Bank, the London Mining Company and the Total Global Steel Company.

Before his ministerial appointment, he was the chief accountant at the Sierra Leone branch of eHealth Africa, an organization with headquarters in Washington, D.C., that supports health systems in poor communities.

By appointing Mr. Bangura as minister, Sierra Leone’s current president, Julius Maada Bio, in part fulfils his promise to appoint young people to top positions in government.

Other key appointees in Mr. Bio’s administration include Francis Ben Kaifala, 34, head of the Anti-Corruption Commission; David Moinina Sengeh, 32, a technological whiz kid from MIT and Harvard, the country’s chief innovation officer; and Yusuf Keketoma Sandi, 32, Presidential Spokesperson and Press Secretary.

Mr. Bio himself was a military head of state in March 1996 at just 31 years of age before handing power over to a civilian government that same year.

Mr. Bangura’s popularity in Sierra Leone comes in part from his youth and his unconventional personal style, but also from the policies he is developing.

He sometimes goes to cabinet meetings in khaki trousers, sneakers and rolled up long-sleeved shirts. As well, he regularly visits popular cafés known locally as “ataya bases” to engage young people in lively, sometimes heated discussions about political, economic and social issues.

The minister also finds time to go to simple restaurants in the impoverished neighborhoods of the capital, Freetown, where he mixes freely with the people. On weekends he is usually seen running or playing football on the beaches with local youths.

While his personal style has captivated a society not accustomed to having easy access to top government functionaries, the policies Mr. Bangura is formulating and implementing have further endeared him to the public.

One of his first tasks as minister was to resuscitate the moribund National Youth Service Scheme (NYSS), which was first set up in 1961 but failed miserably at that time. In 2016 the scheme was reestablished by an act of Parliament.

Mr. Bangura is hopeful that this time, young graduates will be able to undertake a year of compulsory national service. He has recruited 200 youths as part of a startup strategy.

“The NYSS will encourage volunteerism, foster patriotism and national cohesion,” he says.

The young minister is also implementing the Youth in Entrepreneurship Project, which, according to him, “will place cash and training in the hands of young Sierra Leoneans with innovative and groundbreaking ideas for the development of the country.”

He is helping set up youth projects in the agricultural and fisheries sectors, and a youth village where young people will learn vocational skills to increase their social mobility.

Mr. Bangura also proposes what he calls the Youth Empowerment Fund, from which young people will be able to draw financing for business ideas. He says the fund will allow “the country to reap demographic dividends,” adding that youth employment “is a security and development challenge that should be addressed effectively and immediately.”

Chernor Bah, an international girls’ champion and cofounder of Purposeful Production, a movement-building hub for adolescent girls in developing countries, works closely with Mr. Bangura. Mr. Bah is helping to review the country’s national youth policy.

He says, “Being a minister has not changed Mr. Bangura. He remains just as he has always been, maintaining his circle of friends and caring for the underprivileged members of society.”

Mr. Bangura has set his sights on building a legacy of youth empowerment. “We must be determined to do the needful for young people and for national development,” he says.

Africa Renewal

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Sierra Leone

APC condemns the “unjust and indiscriminate” arrest of its members

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Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 August 2019:

Sierra Leone’s main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) Party is today condemning the arrest and incarceration of its members and supporters by the police.

Writing in a public statement published yesterday, the party’s National Secretary General – Alhaji Dr Osman Foday Yansaneh refers to the arrest as unjust and indiscriminate. He calls on the international community to act.

This statement comes as the chairman of the Western Area Rural District Council – Mr Kasho Holland Cole (Photo – dressed in blue), who is also a senior member of the APC party, was released on bail today, after spending a few nights at the maximum Pademba Road Prison, for alleged riotous and violent conduct.

Twenty-three other APC politicians are being held in prison on similar charges, including the former Mayor of Freetown – Herbert George Williams, who was arrested yesterday and refused bail.

This is what the APC party’s National Secretary General – Alhaji Dr Osman Foday Yansaneh said:

“The leadership and entire membership of the All People’s Congress (APC) Party wish to draw the attention of all peace loving Sierra Leoneans and the International Community to the new pattern of unjust and indiscriminate arrest of peaceful and law abiding members of our revered APC Party on trumped up charges.

These members have been detained for varying periods and most of them refused bail contrary to Section 17 of the 1991 Constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

The public would recall that on 31st May 2019, the Sierra Leone Police raided the offices of our Party and brutalized our members that were barricaded there. As if that was not enough, they went further to arrest and detain about 145 of our members for several days at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

47 of them were subsequently charged to Court without any hearing to date which in itself is a violation of their right to fair hearing within a reasonable time as guaranteed under Section 23 of the 1991 Constitution.

Since that barbaric attack by the SLP, the Publicity Secretary of the APC Mr. Cornelius Deveaux is still at large and we continue to fear for his personal safety and security.

Similarly, on the 29th July 2019, a day set aside by the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) for our APC Party to organize a rally in support of our candidate for the Re-run elections in Constituency 110, our supporters were attacked by members of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) who were not supposed to rally on that day. (Photo: APC National Secretary General – Yansaneh).

Following that incident, the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) arrested and incarcerated 23 supporters of the APC including a 73 year old man, a sick young man that was severely beaten and brutalized in the home of the SLPP candidate (video of the incident is available on social media), and a former Minister that had gone to the Adonkia Police Station to report the unfortunate incident.

All but one of them are still incarcerated at the Pademba Road Maximum Security Correctional Services Prison awaiting trial. The decision by the Magistrate to refuse them bail is in clear breach of their fundamental human rights.

On 13th August 2019, the Chairman of the Western Area Rural District was arrested and detained on similar fabricated and trumped up charges. He has been refused bail repeatedly and as we issue this statement, he is still detained at the Pademba Road Maximum Security Correctional Services Prison.

Today 19th August 2019, the SLP have again arrested the former Mayor of the Freetown City Council. He has since been charged to court and detained.

There is also a long list of other senior members of the APC Party that reports say are next in line to be arrested and detained for similar reasons.

The APC Party wishes to let all Sierra Leoneans (at home and abroad) and the international community know that the SLPP Government is now using the Sierra Leone Police to wage war on the APC.

This incessant savagery meted out on our members and the accompanying acts of intimidation and threats are becoming unbearable for our Party.

The APC Party wishes to make it known that such acts threaten the peace and stability of this country and undermine the basic tenets of democracy and good governance that we have all fought so hard to nurture and sustain.

It is now apparent that these actions by the SLP under the watch of the SLPP Government are clearly designed to ensure that our voters in Constituency 110 are disenfranchised by forcing them to run away from the Constituency and seek refuge in faraway places for fear of being arrested and detained.

The Leadership of the APC is hereby calling on the international community and especially our moral guarantors to bring pressure to bear on the SLPP Government and the SLP to stop these senseless moves that have the propensity to degenerate into sustained acts of violence that could threaten the peace and stability of this country.

Signed: Alhaji Amb. Dr. Osman Foday Yansaneh, National Secretary General, APC, 19th August 2019.” (End of Statement).

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Sierra Leone

Floods and mudslides in Sierra Leone – How did we get to this and who is to blame?

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Cyril Barnes: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 August 2019:

Let me start by expressing my deepest condolence to families who have lost their loved ones in torrential rainfall since 2016. May their souls rest in eternal peace. The world has been such a beautiful place since creation. What has gone worng?

Since the beginning of time, the dust of the earth peacefully coexisted with the trees and oceans, as the gentle wind rocked the trees from side to side without falling; and the ocean without angrily overstepping its bounds. The rocks and trees held the soil in firm union to prevent landslide and floods. And then came the spoiler – man.

Since 2016, Sierra Leone has continued to experience heavy torrential downpours during the rainy season, causing mudslides and floods – leaving many dead. Yet, we have failed to go to the drawing board to find ways to stop these ugly occurrences.

Often times,  members of religious and political institutions have been quick to blame the ripple effects of flooding as God’s will, whereas scientists are telling us that it is due to climate change. Given these conceptions, we ask ourselves – how did we get ourselves into this and who is to blame for the deaths of so many Sierra Leoneans?

There are obviously countless human factors responsible for the floods. While some argue that it can be mitigated, others believe it is a natural disaster, hence cannot be stopped. The factors responsible for the floods may range from governments (poor planning), weak application of the laws, community chiefs, land dealers to people’s activities.

Government

The government, through its Ministry of Lands, Country Planning and Environment bears the brunt of the blame for poorly planning of Freetown and its environs. Over the past 25 years, we have seen successive governments failed to take bold steps to address the allocation of lands, planning of the city and removal of citizens from disaster prone areas. For both political and personal reasons, governments have failed to enforce laws preventing land grabbing.

Hills and reserved forest belts have been sold to politicians and affluent people without the keenest thought of human safety. There has been a complete disconnect between the ministry, community chiefs, land dealers/grabbers and enforcement of the law.

Areas that have been marked as disaster prone are still providing habitation for many Sierra Leoneans; and people are still constructing houses in forest belts that restrict habitation.

What is more insulting is that when those land enforcers, on whose faith the government solely rest, but who have slaughtered their sense of patriotism, come around to remove structures built by illicit land owners, they are easily dissuaded with bribes, thus allowing contractors to carry on with their construction.

The Saturday cleaning exercise initiated by President Bio and the flood mitigation initiative implemented by the Mayor of Freetown, helped in mitigating last year’s floods. However, they have not stopped the hills from oozing water this year, because actors have not considered other approaches to tackling the changing effects of deforestation and heavy rainfall.

Community Chiefs

These set of Sierra Leoneans are part of the problems we are facing today. Their quest to marry more women together with their insatiable desire to live ostentatious lifestyles that really do not exist, have clouded their sense of patriotism. Community chiefs have gone from selling forest reserved areas to selling access roads, sacred bushes, community fields and graveyards to satisfy their ill-desires.

In the Hamilton community, I was told that the community chief has sold the only graveyard they had for burial. One of the buyers even constructed an elevated night club in the cemetery with the intent of disturbing the dead.

Even when the dead have relinquished all earthly turmoil, the living will stay awake to rob them off their well-deserved eternal rest. Where does the chief expect himself or his relatives to be buried when they die?

Land dealers and grabbers

Land grabbing is an illicit act in Sierra Leone. But the weak application of the laws has resulted in people grabbing government lands for the purpose of selling. Imagine land dealers selling a piece of land to 10 people, leaving them to fight it out in order to determine ownership; imagine a man buying his own plot of land for the second time because the first transaction was illegal.

The People

Sometimes, we blame successive governments unnecessarily when we should be blaming ourselves. We take for granted the weak implementation of the law, and go on to construct poorly built structures in disaster prone areas. And when natural disaster strikes, we blame the government.

Those who buy disaster prone lands, graveyards, reserved forest belts are always on the receiving end of one disaster or the other. People risk their safety to construct houses in waterways and quarries.

Some have even resorted to blocking drainage systems such as viaducts, stopping the water from entering the ocean. Along the peninsula, most of the large waterways have been narrowed by perimeter fencing and housing.

In the Kobba Farm Community, the Jui, community people have banked the river illegally for the purpose of constructing a dwelling. They used stones and mud to outstretch the land, pushing the Rokel River offshore. EPA Officers have been contacted on several occasions to put a stop to their illegal activity, but all efforts have proven futile.

In similar situation, there is a house currently under construction in the middle of river that separates Hamilton and Mambo communities.

We pay huge amount of money to buy lands and build houses with less consideration that we will pay even more with the lives of our loved ones, when flood strikes. We throw garbage down the drainage.

We are yet to see a strong government that is determined to prioritise people’s safety over votes. We are yet to see a government that is desperate to remove people from disaster prone areas and rehouse them in low-cost houses, like it used to be.

We are yet to see citizens who would reject buying lands and building houses in disaster prone areas.

Similarly, we are yet to see Sierra Leoneans stop throwing garbage down the drains. We are yet to see the Ministry of Lands take upon itself the responsibility to plan our environment well, and make it habitable for all Sierra Leoneans.

We are yet to see law enforcement agents and community chiefs stop taking bribes in land transactions.

Together we can make this nation great again. But it starts with both singular and collective responsibilities.

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