Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 June 2022:
Last Saturday 18th June, Freetown City Council teams made up of Councillors, public spaces cleaners, sanitary inspectors, MET Police and community volunteers kicked off the council’s fifth annual flood mitigation exercise at Taylor Street, Wellington.
The exercise, which involves removing garbage and silt from gutters, culverts and other waterways at flash flood points, and engaging communities on the need to have registered waste service providers, is aimed at reducing the risk of flooding in areas that are prone to flooding during the rainy seasons.
This year’s exercise will be implemented over three alternate weeks with funding from the Robert Bosch Foundation through GOAL SL.
To kickstart the exercise, Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr joined sanitary inspectors and MET Police at Taylor Street to encourage residents and businesses to call 8244 or use findmeinfreetown.com to identify waste collectors in their area. She also joined the Environment and Sanitation Officer, Mr Mustapha Kemokai, in the supervision of the cleaning and clearing operations.
Saturday’s cleaning was successful as all silt cleared out of the gutters were collected by excavators and skip trucks for dumping at the Kissy Bomeh, to prevent silt making its way back into the gutters and on to the streets.
“We are aware that Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) is also clearing gutters in Freetown with funding from RMFA and we continue to request that silt removed from the gutters by SLRA is immediately cleared away and not left on the side of the road.
“We also continue to advocate for the devolution of land use planning and building permits to all local councils so that construction, especially up in hills, is better regulated to avoid indiscriminate deforestation and the associated erosion, which fills our gutters and waterways with silt every year,” says Mayor Aki-Sawyerr.
In another development, FCC Councillors held a press conference last week to sensitise property rates payesr about the need to ensure they pay their rates. The key messages covered were:
• The need for Freetonians to pay their property rates in order to ensure that FCC can deliver effective services. Services including daily street sweeping and market cleaning, construction of cemetery walls (Circular Road construction ongoing), market construction (Wilberforce market construction ongoing), improvements in municipal schools
• that 40% of Freetonians rate payers only pay Le100,000 per annum
• that FCC will physically move into communities with our bank tellers to collect property rates because we recognize that many people live far away from FCC and the approved banks (Zenith, Ecobank, Rokel Commercial and Standard Chartered Banks) and that transport is now very expensive.
Other points discussed were:
• FCC and other local councils have not received any government allocations for the year 2022
• RMFA has given funds meant for FCC to SLRA for flood mitigation
• SLRA contractors are removing silt from gutters but instead of carting the silt away, the contractors are leaving the silt by the side of the road and creating hazards and traffic disruption
• FCC has complained to SLRA and relevant government ministries, but the SLRA contractors have continued to leave the silt along key roads.
• FCC will continue to fulfil our responsibility to keep the city clean in spite of these challenges and we look forward to the cooperation of Freetonians as we move into communities with our banks next week for property rate collection.