Sitta Turay: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 October 2018:
Try walking on foot in Freetown today and face the hassle from motorists, pickpockets and open gutters with damaged slabs that may cost a broken leg. Traders have occupied the remaining footpaths that illegal structures are yet to occupy.
Nothing is more difficult in Freetown right now, than to commute on foot. It is virtually impossible for anyone to walk on foot from one point to the other.
Building owners have extended their buildings to the footpaths that were originally in place. Added to that, some unscrupulous people have built houses on lands that were specially reserved for some important purpose by the government.
Illegal land grab
Starting with Lumley Police station, a large part of that land has been grabbed by the sacked Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Al Sheik Kamara. The land belongs to the police, and before Al Sheik constructed his house on the land, the Police board raised a concern. However, as APC was in power at that time and there were no good policymakers, it was allowed to be built.
That building, is on the land of the Sierra Leone Police. It was deliberately and illegally constructed and ought to be repossessed.
Government must take immediate action to investigate every single building that has either encroached or is on illegal land. An example must be set. Government must send signals to people that no matter the position one holds in the country, you are not above the law.
There are so many other structures that are supposed to be either vacated or removed. The building that hosts the Noreska Restaurant along Campbell Street is one example. The building has been extended unto the entire footpath. Looking at that building one will clearly notice that, it has encroached the footpath twice over. This needs to be corrected for pedestrians to have a clear footpath to walk on.
The three-storey building that is located on the bridge or culvert of Goderich street, is completely dangerous and insecure. The structure should not have been constructed on that culvert because it will one day collapse and kill people. It is a death trap.
There is a house built on the main street and at the corner of Fourah Bay Road and Dan Street just opposite the fence of Cottage Hospital. That structure is built in the middle of the street which is creating a whole lot of traffic and danger for pedestrians.
That space was used for Poda Poda drivers to collect passengers and return to the East part of Freetown but that is not happening now because some unscrupulous people came to power called the APC. This structure must be removed immediately.
The whole footpath of Fourah Bay Road has been occupied by illegal extension of buildings by either building shops or rooms. But, it is done on the footpath and no one is taking action.
There is an ongoing construction at the junction of Congo Cross that is not supposed to take place. This structure has no legitimacy for several reasons:
First of all, it has no space for cesspit and it is situated on a corner that has 24 hours vehicular access and the house have not got the required space between it and the two streets on which it is situated.
It is time we take the bull by the horns and stop this illegal construction.
What are we trying to show or protect? Are we showing partisanship or just being corrupt and therefore do the wrong things?
There are several other illegal structures especially in the Eastern districts of Freetown. One construction is going on at the former dump site on Bai Bureh Road Kissy, that must be stopped immediately.
That place was a minefield that has not been inspected by any professional engineer and therefore should not be given a permit to construct a building there. It is a dangerous site that may also cost lives one day.
Further down Bai Bureh Road, people have rampantly grabbed lands that are reserved for road improvement. These places must be cleared of those structures.
At Regent Road Lumley, one will hardly walk without having serious encounter with motorists and broken gutter. The bandits are also on the standby to jump into action whenever they see what they call “option”.
It might be difficult for the SLPP government to handle such situations because it has been in power for just six months ; yet immediate action is highly needed. Sierra Leone needs it.
Editor’s note: Photos to be published soon.