Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 January 2020:
A large fire engulfed the Public Works Department building at Pademba Road in central Freetown – just yards away from the country’s main Pademba Road Prison last Saturday, threatening to destroy hundreds of nearby commercial properties and private dwellings.
The cause of the fire is yet to be determined, as police and fire fighters conduct their investigations.
Hundreds of homeless and disabled people who were squatting at the workshop have been left homeless, with many losing their clothes and other personal items in the fire.
Hundreds of local youths working and training at the workshop are today out of work.
The country’s Minister of Local Government and Rural Development – Mr Tamba Lamina was out visiting the scene of the fire and talking to those affected. He also went to the Bumeh rubbish dump site on Saturday to see at first hand, the challenges facing the city’s waste disposal efforts.
The fire also brought Saturday’s national street and community cleaning to a halt. This is what the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development – Mr Tamba Lamina (Photo- seen here in the yellow hard hat) who also participated in Saturday’s street cleaning exercise told the Sierra Leone Telegraph:
“The first 2020 monthly cleaning exercise in the Freetown City Council and WARD C would have ended well, considering the level of collaboration between various agencies until the fire disaster at PWD in Pademba road brought that area to a complete standstill, as the fire threatened not only to engulf the workshop but other business and dwelling areas in the vicinity.
“The fire force in collaboration with the youths of the area averted what would have invariably become a catastrophic disaster. The loss of property and business of many small-scale enterprises left many in a terrible state of shock and bewilderment.
“It is at times like this that the resilience and courage of our people becomes a pillar of nationhood. I doff my hat to all those who contributed immensely in ensuring that the level of damage was only reduced to the PWD workshop.
“Very impressive cooperation and determination of national service at the risk of personal injury. We wish the affected business persons a speedy recovery and no doubt the prosperity that 2020 brings.
“The monthly cleaning exercise was largely successful. The council officials, Youth Commission, the Armed Forces, Fire Force, Civil Society Organizations and Media houses all contributed to what seems to be an incremental success story. Kudos to them all.
“My engagement with the supervisor of the Kingtom dump site provided the required insight of the challenges of waste management in the municipality area. Nonetheless, with the engagements of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development with FTC, there is no doubting of the fact that we all have a compelling objective in ensuring that the President’s initiative with regards sanitation, waste management and disease prevention is critical to national development.
“The Kingtom dumpsite remains a challenge. The supervisor demonstrated exceptional organisational and leadership skills in enabling the flow of dump vehicles to the site. A key concern is the increased number of under-aged scavengers at the dump site. (Photo: Mr Tamba Lamina – seen here in the yellow hard hat)
“Children as young as four were observed picking into rubbish that could potentially pose threat to their health and safety. I have for a while watched these scenes on social media with absolute disgust and hair raising moments, but witnessing it today brought a vivid realisation of the fact that a combination of factors result in these sorts of engagement.
“Rationalising of such factors can never be inexcusable. Parental responsibility needs to be revisited, coupled with efforts from us to cry down such activities.
“My sincere appreciation to all who worked ardently in making sure that the successes of today remain unblemished.“