Puawui – Dr Sama Banya: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 August 2019:
It rained for most of last week and I began to wonder whether nature had changed her mind so that we were now having the “Seven Days Rain” in late July rather than in its usual month of August.
I looked down at the structures under the Congo or Peace Bridge the other day on my way to Wilkinson Road. I was amazed at how near most of the shacks “pan body” buildings, and surprisingly one or two concrete ones were quite close to, and indeed being washed away by the fast flowing stream.
My mind also went to the Congo Town Bridge on the Ascension Town/Congo Town Road. I was concerned and I said to no one in particular, “My God! What a blessing that we are not prone to hurricanes or to weaker Tropical storms. I dreaded to imagine what the consequences would be, were we to ever be victims of a devastating Tsunami.” Yes, and I thanked my God silently.
Every time I watch those horrible disasters elsewhere on Television I am filled with fear in case it happened in our beautiful Sierra Leone. Over the last two days, I did my early morning walk indoors because of the rain; there was still some drizzle this Friday morning which also compelled me to keep indoors.
But then just after breakfast, what started as a near Sunday school event turned violent. The rain was coming down hard as if some mischievous idiot had provoked it into action. The drops were as big as icicles and rained down really hard and with vehemence – the like of which I had not witnessed for a very long time.
My mind quickly went up to Regent where I had read the previous day that there were visible cracks in the contour of Mount Sugarloaf. What made it appear even more awesome was the commentary that contrary to common sense and contrary to any lessons from the recent disaster up there, and contrary to the efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that people had constructed structures and were as a matter of fact living within that danger zone.
In the Freetown municipality the dedicated and indefatigable young Mayor Aki-Sawyer, has been busy putting modalities together including the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with a the armed forces for flood disaster prevention.
Someone with a sense of humour had even inserted a cartoon on social media of one of the houses to which I have already referred standing in a flooded area with the caption, “Two bedrooms and parlour to let.” I have no doubt that the cartoonist must have regretted his dry sense of humour as I hope he was watching the catastrophe that was unfolding before our eyes in various parts of the city.
The waters were cascading down as if from a burst dam. Again thanks to the recent activities by members of our armed forces as if to supplement the plans of Mayor Aki-Sawyer and the government, had been busy clearing the repeatedly blocked drainage in different parts of the city, including Campbell Street/, Dundas/ Street/ Pademba road area.
As I type this column and following a lull of about 90 minutes, the rain has continued well into the evening. It is too early to determine the extent of damage from today’s downpour but it must be considerable. The question comes up and not for the first time, “BUT WHY?”.
Why are we so stiff necked in our attitude to environmental concerns as if we had been under America President Trump’s teaching to wit that climate change is not as a result of man’s activities? Why must we go through this kind of experience year in and year out rather than accepting the reality that the situation is manmade and heed warnings as well as find ways to enable us to put remedial actions into practice?
When I was Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation under President Ahmad Tejan-Kabbah there was a bright young lady in the ministry and who was in charge of international relations. She is still in the Foreign Service but in addition she has found time to be a Servant of God and disciple of Christ.
In her tweet on WhatsApp today under the title Spiritual Nuggets she writes, “God is watching us to take responsibility and fulfil the purpose of our lives and even the responsibility for the lives of others.”
The Environmental Protection Agency which has the primary responsibility to overlook the care and protection of our environment in association with the ministries of Lands and Country Planning, Agriculture and Forestry together with their expert divisions like the Sierra Leone Roads Authority, must as a matter of urgency convene a conference to boldly map out the way forward.
This must not be a mere talking shop where at the end of the deliberations the conclusions and Plan of Action are placed in a beautiful folder and left in some place until it is covered with the official dust of negligence.
The numerous Environmental Societies such as the Conservation Society, the Environmental Foundation for Africa, Green Scenery and others along with their Associates can be relied upon to come up with brilliant and practical solutions to our present problems.
The time for action is now; West Africa is at the tip of the Gulf streams from which some of the most horrific hurricanes and Tropical storms originate. We must not wait until the day when the eye of the storm may just originate further back. Heaven forbid because it will not simply be a disaster, but a devastation of immeasurable consequences.
Our “Talk and do President” can be relied to take immediate action when presented with a practicable plan of action.
Finally, believe it or not this was the weather forecast for this morning Friday August2:- Freetown weather forecast for this morning: “Cloudy with scattered thunder storms with 60 % chance of rain!” well, I for one didn’t hear the sound of thunder anywhere; on the other hand it has just been rain, rain and more rain into the night. We are being warned!
Prevention is better than cure. This does not only apply to medical conditions. Instead of issuing out endless notices to inhabitants of slum communities which are prone to flooding, to relocate to safer alternatives provided in addition with cash incentives, the authorities should simply move in and flatten said areas with bulldozers. Period!! The authorities in other African countries took similar action.