Freetown City Council warns residents of looming flood disaster

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 July 2020:

Social media is awash with videos of several communities, roads and valleys inundated by heavy rains in Freetown, threatening to trigger serious flooding and possible mudslide, reminiscent of the 2017 mudlslide disaster that took the lives of over a thousand people, mostly children and the elderly.

As the city continues to be pelted by heavy rains, government ministers from across various ministries including Water Resources, Lands and Country Planning, Environment, Local Government, and Defence, along with other government officials will conduct an assessment tour of the Western Area Rural District of Freetown tomorrow, Thursday 16 July to evaluate the level of encroachment on protected areas, especially critical areas hosting the city’s water catchments, and to produce mitigating strategy for the  protected areas.

Yesterday, the Freetown City Council (FCC) called on residents, especially those who are living in communities prone to flooding to remain alert as heavy rain is forecasted over the next three days.

Residents living in lowlands and flood plains along the coast of Freetown have been advised by the council to be vigilant, especially at nights, as they have an increased risk of flooding and other environmental disasters.

The FCC is calling on individuals to report a disaster or contact the Office of National Security (ONS) on 076 612775.

FCC says that, with support from several partners and the central Government, it will continue to collaborate with the military to implement the City’s 2020 Flood Mitigation programme as they have done in the last month in 52 communities across Freetown.

According to the FCC, their interventions which include clearing of blocked culverts, drainages and silted gutters and waterways, help reduce incidence of flooding in certain vulnerable communities.

However, the council says that the current practice of building along waterways and in flood plains in parts of the city leave many residents vulnerable, and that its flood mitigation activities cannot effectively address this land use planning challenge.

Lamenting on the looming flooding disaster awaiting several low-lying communities in Freetown this rainy season, Dr. Sillah Kargbo, former presidential adviser – Water Resources and Water Infrastructure, wrote:

“I don’t know what is wrong with our politicians. I wrote a flood management project and while I was at State House, we hired an American Engineering Consulting firm to do the first part of the study. The government of Sierra Leone still owes that firm $1,300,000 so that they could complete the design of the drainage system.

“I am made to understand that the SLPP Paopa government say it is an APC debt. Now people are suffering from avoidable floods and possibly mudslides. Freetown is the wettest country capital in the world, with an average of 5000 mm of rainfall per year. Are the authorities going to sit down and see such devastating flooding every rainy season?

“I gave a copy of Freetown Stormwater Management Report to the Mayor and Ministry of Finance and pleaded with them to pay the consultants to complete their work and nothing has been done. Most of the city’s flood waters are coming from the hills that have been deforested for uncontrolled and unplanned housing constructions.

“The proposed flood Management system includes the construction of 29 cascaded ponds to temporarily hold the large volumes of flows coming from the hills and released in a controlled way through specially designed weirs into the also proposed overland drainage network. The proposed Stormwater system also include a subsurface storm sewer system to prevent the street flooding we are seeing in these videos.

“Government should be continuity. SLPP please you cannot ignore projects initiated by the previous government, meant to protect the lives and property of our people, you need to complete this project for God’s sake. People are suffering.

“Your government also has the Rokel River Water Supply project I submitted to the Ministry of Water Resources to address the water supply problem in Freetown. Please be patriotic citizens and implement those two projects for the good of all.”

Successive governments have paid lip service to the problems and dangers of deforestation, climate change, and flooding in Freetown, and there is no indication of a concerted action to effect real change anytime soon.

5 Comments

  1. What a disgraceful sight – a muddy river running through Freetown an African city; SHAME ON THE SLPP – This just shows how little-minded, silly-minded and visionless our current leaders really are. So much work to be done, and they keep on fleecing the system and engaging themselves in profitless trivialities and inessential political pettiness.

    And please do not let me hear anyone on this glorious forum say anything as nonsensical as; “The problem has been there since the APC were in power, and they did not fix it – Why should we?” Only SLPP dummies will have the guts to utter such a bizarre half-witted statement.

    • “Regardez-moi ça! Ce vraiment dégueulasse et pitoyable pour les citoyen de la capital Freetown”. True Stargarzer. They will even go further to tell you that the Gods of the rainy season favoured the APC and not the SLPP. Can you imagine that type of mentality? With all the millions of dollars per year earned from the Freetown harbour, Freetown is still one of the least developed cities in the world with paddy fields all over the place. What a disgusting mess witnessed by the Bio SLPP. The situation has worsened since President Bio, with his so-called “new direction” came to power more than two years ago. Developing Freetown for them is last in the queue.

      What they are interested in, is building a “humpty dumpty sat on the wall bridge, 13 miles to Lungi, trying to unleash terror in Kono, unlawful arrests and incarceration of opposition politicians etc. What we saw was, how “humpty dumpty had a great fall from sitting on top the fantasy $2 billion bridge and the building of the Lungi Bridge rhetoric silenced”. Did everyone remember that picture? I hope so. God help the mayor of Freetown Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyer to get help from outside donors to build her city. God bless our Mayor and Stargazer.

  2. Well this government stopped a lot of projects that began under the previous APC government, in the name of reassessment of contracts with contractors. I am all for that mission statement to assess contracts where this government thinks the state is paying through the nose. If President Bio and his government can save us paying over the odds is good. And tackling corrupt officials and any leakage earmarked for this sort of developments. What is not acceptable, is to put these projects on hold, on endless bureaucratic cycles of reviews after reviews, until the next government takes office, and pick up the same batton and start running in cycles again.

    This repetition of reviews on road construction, water management, cracking down hard on the mafia timber traders, that lets face it are causing us this environmental disasters, is what is holding us back from developing our country. Identify the problem, take it out of the way and move on. I think its about time this government address these issues seriously. Otherwise one day we will wake up with the low lying areas of Freetown under water. Its already happening.

    This government needs to get it piriotrities right. At the moment they do not seem to have a clue of what is facing us. If you are to travel from Musia to Bendi in Falaba District, the road construction cobalt is strewn along red dug up roads that are awaiting government approval for completion of these roads.

  3. The problem of flooding cannot be solved within the 2years of this government. When was the study conducted and why was the contractor not paid? The problem with some of our so called experts is that they as well as our politicians are part and parcel of the endemic problems our country has grappled with over the years.

    I will like to know more about the reported project rather than emphasizing on paying for a study that has not been publicised until now.

  4. Unfortunately this is the new reality that we have to live with. We have destroyed and still continue to destroy all the trees in Freetown that the Almighty created to protect us from this type of disaster.. Now nature is fighting back and only the Almighty with the help of the people will reverse this situation. I hope the New Direction government and Mayor of Freetown will start enforcing the environmental laws and they are serious about Trees Planting.

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