President Ernest Bai Koroma has on Thursday declared his vision for a new city.
The President made this pronouncement while turning the sod at two sites earmarked for the construction of affordable housing by Regimanuel Grey estate developers who are in partnership with the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT)
The President said that the new city is going to spread from Waterloo in the East to Hamilton in the West end of Freetown.
In his statement before turning the sod at the Waterloo site, President Koroma lamented that “the once scenic horizon of the hills and valleys of Freetown are now littered with unplanned development.” He noted that “the housing developments which should be considered as communities are in fact clusters or subhuman habitat that none of us wish to live in,” adding “It is factors like these and many others, that have kept Sierra Leone at the bottom of the human development ladder.”
“For many years” he noted “we have witnessed the unplanned mushrooming of communities around our cities and we have witnessed the environmental degradation created by this uncoordinated development.”
The President warned that “a continuation of such unplanned development is bound to have a destructive consequence for the future,” adding that “It is as a result of this concern that my government is supporting a better alternative for the current housing development.”
“Our people deserve something better and government owes it to them,” the President maintained.
“My vision for the future is for the construction of new cities,” he declared.
President Koroma disclosed his dream of a well planned city, “developed communities with adequate supply of electricity and water, sewage, waste management, telecommunications and transportation services of the people residing in these communities.”
“I see a city with a well defined commercial district with modern architectural buildings and structures for business activities for all types of corporate entities…recreational centres completely integrated with recent shopping malls, Public Park another forum of recreation supporting a wide range of activities.”
“This is my vision for housing and estate development in this country and I want to committee myself to do all within my powers to translate this vision into a reality for the people of our country,” he said.
“As a symbolic demonstration of the realization of this vision of mine, I declare that the boundaries of this new city of which I speak to begin from this land on which we all stand today and expand from this location towards the west end of what we all know today as Freetown,” President Koroma declared.
“We shall plan the development of the new city from Waterloo to Hamilton village,” he said, adding that “this planning will indicate which areas will be developed as homes, residential areas, industrial areas, commercial, and recreational areas, public and civic areas, as well as green areas,” the President said.
“The project involves the construction of 125 housing units and the development of 200 service plots nation wide. This is a significant step in spite of the huge current need for housing in our country,” disclosed the President.
Taking into account the population growth, the president said studies show that the country needs approximately, 250,000 housing units nationwide to address the existing shortage.
As a result the President ordered “the Ministry of Lands is directed to conduct a comprehensive survey from this point [Waterloo] to Hamilton village in the West end of Freetown … using GPRS technology and modern surveying tools.”
He explained that the essence of the survey is to identify all lands acquired legally and the illegal ones will be confiscated by government.
“Let it be known that all lands for which proper evidence of private ownership is not produced will automatically revert to the state.” He added “My government does not intend to take land from individuals that own theirs legally,” he said.
The President pointed out that his new stance is to “stop the blatant land grabbing and sanitize the land market in the country… and develop a database for all land in the country.”
“We want to ensure that land titles are unique and that the process for transfer of titles may be done in a transparent manner, and also to develop a master plan for this region indicating land uses of hill side areas in this plan,” he stressed.
The Minister of Lands Housing and Country Planning, Benjamin Davies said that the project is in line with the dreams of the President, adding that shelter is a fundamental Human Right.
The President also gave the responsibility to Regimanuel Grey to repair the hillside roads leading to these two sites inorder to attain easy access to these communities.
He also called for the establishment of an estate wing of NASSIT to embark in such a project, and appealed to members of the private sector to engage in such estate developmental drive which Regimanuel and NASSIT are already pacesetters of.
Regimanuel Grey’s Managing Director Emmanuel Botchwey disclosed that the units (houses) at Grafton will be 120 bedrooms detached bungalows, 960 two bed room apartments in 60 four-storied blocks and that the grounds of the affordable house community is going to be paved with street lights and powered with proper distribution networks.
He further disclosed that the project is a pacesetter which will be replicated in other areas of the country.
Mr Botchwey also pointed out that employment will be provided for youth in the communities during the construction of the bungalows.
He craved the indulgence of the President to ensure that the road leading to these two communities are repaired to facilitate rapid socio-economic development.
NASSIT Chairman Jacob Kanu also emphasized the need for the development of adequate road network as a new city is about to emerge.