Thousands left homeless in Susan Bay Freetown by raging inferno 

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 March 2021:

One of the poorest slum communities in the capital Freetown – the Susan Bay community was engulfed in a massive blaze of fire last night, destroying properties and leaving thousands of people destitute.

It is not clear what could have started the fire, but such outbreak is not unusual in highly densely populated and overcrowded communities where houses are made of pieces of timber and metal sheets, and many households using kerosene lamps to light up their homes.

Poor electricity wiring and illegal tapping into the national elelcrticity grid are also possible causes of the fire.

The raging inferno which could be seen for several miles into the horizon, has prompted calls once again for the resettlement of people living in appalling conditions in slum communities.

It is estimated that over 500,000 people in Freetown live in slum areas with no access to drinking water and poor sanitation.

Visiting the affected community and speaking last night about the disaster, this is what Freetown’s Mayor – Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr said:

“Just left the scene of a terrible fire at Susan’s Bay. The entire community has been burnt to the ground. Thousands are affected. We won’t know the full scale of the disaster until tomorrow when we conduct an assessment with NDMA and other partners. Many children are missing, separated from their parents in the chaos. Twelve children were at the FSU at Eastern Police station. We understand that other children might have boarded boats moored on the wharf.

“Devastating to witness yet another fire disaster in the wake of six others in recent weeks. Once again, there was no access for the fire service. A six-storey building under construction at the Guinea Store entrance to Susan’s Bay blocked what access there would previously have been from that end.

“Disaster risk reduction cannot happen without effective urban planning and a building permit regime which is focused on reducing environmental and man-made risks. Local councils are best placed to deliver these mandates and even as we once again face disasters like this terrible fire, we trust that devolution of land use planning and building permit issuance will happen soon. We believe that this will through policy design help to mitigate against these disasters. Please join us in praying for the victims”.

Also reacting to the fire disaster, the former Attorney General of Sierra Leone – Mr Joseph Franklyn Kamara said: “My heartfelt condolences to the victims of the fire incident that occurred at Susan’s Bay last night.

“While the cause of the fire remains obscure, the Emergence Response to such disasters must be revisited. Immediate arrangements should be made for shelter relocation, medical care and food supplies. It will not be unwise to set up an Investigative Panel moving forwards.”

 

 

 

 

5 Comments

  1. Pleased to share my empathy with the victims. May God provide you with courage to live on. I think it’s time for our authorities, the parliamentarians, politicians and Sierra Leoneans at large to begin to think beyond how we can help solve the problem of inferno in our city centers and hill sides; drowning; mudslides; earthquakes if the situation arises.

    “What happens to a man is important, but not as important as what he makes of it”. In my opinion, I think it will reach a time when our government will think of procuring helicopter fighter engines. Our vehicle fire engines find it difficult to access fire scenes on time because of traffic congestion. It is likely difficult for vehicle fire engines to access the hill sides too. How do we rescue people in mudslide zones, our forests and sea. Some of the underlying factors that have made most nations great is how their authorities, technocrats and citizens have helped to save the lives of their Citizens. Sierra Leone – the land that we love.

  2. Truly a shocking tragic event. And for families affected a life changing moment for them and their families. This is really heart breaking. Especially in the middle of a pandemic where life is already made tough with all the covid19 restrictions in place. The Mayor Yvonne Denise Aki-Swayer has once again shown her leadership acumen, and empathy towards the victims of this shocking inferno. She has truly displayed her leadership qualities. The comforter in chief. A people’s person. A true representation of the ordinary man and woman. Not only by words but by actions with her little budget accorded to her. The Mayor has displayed what it means to be a representative of the people. More than any other time, this is the time families that are traumatised by this tragic event needed someone there for a sense of reassurance, empathy, and with a promise that everything will be alright. That all is not lost.

    Constrat that with a government that cares very little for its people, both in action and deeds, then you get the full picture. The issue of urban planning and housing in Freetown has always been a bone of contention. The reality of course today is Susan Bay, but it could have been anywhere. This sort of things should not happen in 21st century, where city residents’ fate is reduced to the whims of a corrupt government that denies the agent of change in the form of our Mayor, the necessary funding to improve and mitigated this sort of disaster.

    Instead the Mayor and the residents are put in position where their fate is determined by unmitigated disasters like fire accidents, flooding and a fire service that is under resourced and buckling under strain. At the same time the Bio government is prepared to spend millions of dollars on flashy SUVs, that are of no use to anyone but to socalled government functionaries. And worse, they are proud of driving them around in potholes filled roads. Unfortunately this is the realiy of every day life in Sierra Leone. These accidents are all man made and they should not happen.

  3. This is truly heartbreaking news. The inferno and the devastation it is causing send shivers down my spine, shaking me to the very core of my being. See those hapless children with pain and misery written all over them: the shock and incomprehension in their eyes and their subdued demeanor move me to tears. What a devastating indictment of the failure of our leaders over the years to provide the very minimum of decent and dignified living standards for our people. In the land of plenty (large swathes of arable land, abundant mineral and natural resources, a relatively manageable population size), our people remain destitute beyond belief.

    Poverty on so obscene a scale is inexcusable; it was certainly not what Sir Milton and other architects of our independence ever imagined when they chose to restore our freedom, dignity and national selfhood. They thought and dreamed big, wanting the very best for our nation. How they must now be turning in their graves in the face of yet another illustration of the calamitous way their successors have handled their handiwork. My heart bleeds for those hapless children, and Kudos to the Mayor of Freetown for being there for them in their hour of need.

  4. Sorry for all these people. Long time ago I was writing here about a necessary better town planning. This catastrophe was
    foreseeable in one of these slums. I don’t know if there are any longterm plans forthe resettlement of these poor people to a better place under condition they can afford.

    What caused the fire? If I were a conspiracy theorist I would say someone maybe is interested in this area near the commercial center of freetown, only an idea.

    • And there he goes again a man who is a true friend of my beautiful Sierra Leone telling us to look beyond that which is obvious to the naked eyes;(lol) Mr Reinhard Wiecha anything is possible in Sierra Leone a place of abject poverty where morality and ethical behaviour have long been flushed away down the drains of self centeredness and Greed.

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