Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 August 2022:
My heart goes out to the families of the six people who died in the mudslide at Looking Town today Sunday, 28th August 2022. The deceased (a husband, wife and their baby, another child and two men) lived in two adjacent homes perched on a steep slope in the hills above Kissy.
Like many other informal settlements, there is no road to the community, it is accessed via a 15 minute walk along a narrow footpath. As I spoke with survivors and neighbors, I could clearly see a huge boulder positioned precariously above the community. A poignant reminder of the risk of disaster this community lives with daily. (Photos: Mayor Aki-Sawyerr visits areas affected by August 2022 heavy rains).
In Culvert community, the river had overflowed its bank. We had visited this community last week after Sunday’s heavy rains, and plans were underway to dredge the river; the rains came again before that work could start. But dredging the river will not be sufficient.
We went further downstream from Culvert to Kanikay where we saw how the mouth of the river is being closed through “banking”. The banking is so extensive that the once vast water expanse between Kissy Dockyard and Kanikay is closing.
The flooding of coastal communities will worsen as natural waterways and protective mangroves are destroyed through banking. The same phenomenon is being experienced in the west of Freetown where the Aberdeen Creek is being banked to the extent that the Lumley Beach Road is now almost connected to Cockle Bay.
Climate change is real and extreme weather events are set to continue. We must prepare for these and protect our communities from the risks of mudslides, landslides and floods. We must stop the deforestation of our hillsides and the destruction of our mangroves (largely driven by housing construction).
We must stop the construction of structures in waterways, we must stop dumping waste in gutters and waterways.
Contrary to views I’ve often heard expressed about Freetown, it is not too late to introduce land use planning and an environmentally sensitive building permit regime. I will continue to advocate for these functions to be devolved to the 22 Local Councils in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Act 2004 so that they can be implemented.
There were disasters of varying degrees of severity in many communities across the city today, and I would like to thank NDMA, FCC Councillors and the FCC Disaster Risk Management Unit, Community Disaster Management Committees (CDMCs), National Fire Force, Caritas, CRS, IRFC and all others who worked throughout today to assist the affected communities.
Sadly it is predicted that there will be more extreme weather events as unfortunately globally warming is set to continue. Let us do all that we can to be prepared for this, so that we can save lives and properties.
In addition to planting more trees, effective land use planning and an environmentally sensitive building permit regime that is actually implemented will save lives.
Mayor Aki-Sawyerr speaks about the heavy rains disaster and what needs to be done: