Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 June 2018:
The August 14th 2017 mudslide, which took place at the Motema Community in Regent, Freetown, Sierra Leone, left over 1000 Sierra Leoneans dead and many displaced, after a heavy and sustained downpour of torrential rainfall.
According to yesterday’s report by State House media officer – Lamin Sheriff, after several months of trying to repatriate residents from the affected community by the previous government, newly elected President Julius Maada Bio’s government is determined to evacuate the residents before the heavy rains begin to fall.
The State House report says that a recent survey shows that 86 houses have been built in the designated red zone area where risk of flooding is very high.
The Minister of Lands, Housing and the Environment and development partners, have raised serious concerns about the present state of the Motema community, in particularly, those living in the red zone area.
Speaking on behalf of the government at a press conference held at the Ministry of Information and Communications, the Chief Minister – Professor David Francis, informed that the government has decided to move residents that have rebuilt houses within the red zone area of the Motema community for their own safety.
The minister intimated that the United Nations Development programme has carried out a survey within the Motema area, and has advised the government to take robust steps in ensuring that people living within the red zone area, should be evacuated immediately before another catastrophe occurs.
Professor Francis also said that the government under the leadership of President Julius Maada Bio, has committed to providing financial assistance to residents within the red zone to enable them find suitable accommodation elsewhere in a dignified manner.
Government is not building houses for anybody – says the Chief Minister, as he cited the example of the Mile Six Mudslide housing development experience of the previous government, which is still fresh in the minds of Sierra Leoneans.
However, he assured the residents in the Motema community that government will treat them with humanity and compassion.
The Chief Minister also said that the government has established the Mudslide Prevention Inter Agency Committee, as a proactive measure primarily to take action to prevent future Mudslides, not only in Motema but also across the country.
The committee comprises of representatives from the Office of National Security (ONS), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), World Bank and the Department for International Development (DFID).
Chief Minister further told the press conference that the August 14th disaster area will be transformed into a Tourism Area, where people around the world will come to remember those who lost their lives during that August incident; tress will be planted along the area as a memorial.
Statements were also made on behalf of the residents of the affected Motema area. One of the residents – Marie Kamara told the press conference that they are happy with the strive of President Julius Maada Bio and his administration, in making sure that residents of the area are satisfied despite being repatriated from their homes.
She noted keenly that when the Committee went to inspect the site, the people themselves agreed to leave the area, because their lives are worth more than what they have invested in resettling on the red zone.
Joseph B Saidu, another resident of the Motema community told the meeting that they are willing to leave the area for their own safety.
Joseph said, “when we were told to leave the community, we were dissatisfied initially because some of us have invested many Thousands of Leones in building our homes, but we will go in good spirit, as it is for our own safety and the safety of our children. No amount of property is equal to a single life.”