Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 November 2021:
There have been an alarming rise in the number of properties going up in smoke in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown in the last few months, with the most disastrous Wellington fuel tanker explosion which took the lives of over one hundred people and many also in critical condition in hospital, still fresh in people’s minds.
Last week, there were reports of at least three fires engulfing properties across the city which are being investigated by police and fire authorities.
Last Friday, the country’s national disaster agency put out this statement, expressing serious concern:
“The National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) has noted with great concern the sporadic fire outbreaks within the Freetown Municipality, which have left at least one dead and destroyed properties worth millions of Leones.
“Reports of about seven (7) fire incidents between the 15th and 19th November 2021 have been made to the NDMA. The affected areas are Aberdeen Creek, Ranger Street, Turay Drive – Juba Hills, Government Wharf, Janet Lane – Kingtom, Culvert Community – Kissy, and Kissy Dockyard respectively. These fire outbreaks hover mainly around dwelling houses within Freetown.
“The National Disaster Management Agency through its Directorate of Risk Reduction and Preparedness and Relief and Response, in partnership with the National Fire Force (NFF) arrived at the various scenes on time to put out the fire.
“The staff of the NDMA have been on the ground throughout the week conducting assessments on the fire outbreaks which have affected 100s of people and determining the level of response. An initial assessment has so far revealed that improper electricity connections are primarily responsible for random fire outbreaks.
“Consequently, the NDMA has summoned a high-level stakeholders’ meeting on Monday 22nd November 2021 with the Freetown City Council, the National Fire Force, Guma Valley Water Company, Office of National Security, Sierra Leone Ports Authority, Sierra Leone Police, Ministry of Lands, and Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) to devise strategies on community safety engagement, building regulations, water and extinguishing supplies, fire investigation and training for effective prevention and response.
“The National Disaster Management Agency is therefore admonishing all citizens to regularly switch off their electrical appliances before going to bed or when leaving their homes. Citizens are also advised to always hire the services of qualified electricians to do their electrical installations and not to illegally connect more people to one meter. “
The National disasters management agency had it coming. This particular organisation is not fit for purpose. We have been experiencing disasters after disasters but no idea how to address the issues causing this problems. Only to come out with bland warnings. A total dismantling of the organisational structure and appoint peoples that really knows their job description and not just in management positions because they are on first name term with Bio or his government ministers. And this is where all our problems in Sierra Leone can be traced. The whole structure of government departments are broken. Civil servants doesn’t care anymore. People that are not qualified for certain positions are catapult in to position, which render them incompetent and are forever on the job traning throughout their tenure. The National disasters Management have it within their rights to express concerns about the growing alarming rate of fire accidents in the country.
Expressing alarm and not bringing all the parties involved, including government ministries responsible for sensitisation of communities about the importance working with national Power grid to work out a solution to this growing problem, and come up with workable solutions, this warning by the national disaster management will fail. The reality of course, this is an other extention of the Sierra Leone disease we all carry. We are always trying to beat the system for short term gains, rather than look at the big picture, that if we allow the system to work, like paying our bills, instead of trying to undercut the suppliers, in the long run we all stand to benifet from a perfect wotking system. The system is there to service all of us. As the mantra goes “NA GOVERNMENT PROPERTY” No is not government property, is your property as well. You should look after it. This is an other form of corruption in a small scale. Bio and some of his corrupt ministers have emboldened the corrupt individuals amongst us. T
he greatest capital of the world Freetown and its surrounding environs have bare the brunt of every thing that has gone wrong in our country. House fires, mudslide, flooding, deforestation and every evil that have visited us. There are lot of moving parts that is causing this fire accidents.But blaming it on electricity theft by neighbourhood cowboy electricians fixers alone is missing the point. Everyone, including the suppliers in the national grid that haven’t figured out how to make the network of cables and meters, that goes to people’s homes are firmly secured. And establishing a working relationship with communities across the board that are affected. And educating them about the dangers of tampering with the high voltage cables, and making it clear to them those that are playing by the rules might just be subsidising the ones that are willing to break the law, bringing with it untold suffering to their communities.I think is high time the suppliers working with the local communities set up fire safety Marshalls that monitor the meters in people’s home. Otherwise this problem will continue.