Relaxing at any of the Beach Bars at Lumley or Aberdeen is no longer possible as some hired thugs have joined the Sierra Leone Police and the Military to demolish these structures.
The demolition exercise was carried out by the Ministries of Lands and Tourism after negotiating with the beach owners. The beaches at Lumley and Aberdeen have been described as natural and beautiful but criticisms have been levied at the manner in which makeshift structures have been erected along the beach. According to officials from the Ministry of Tourism, plans are underway to plant trees in the area as a way of beautifying the beach.
Precisely a total of ten (10) to fifteen (15) Beach bars along the Aberdeen/Lumley beach were demolished by ‘Grave Yard Crew’ aka ‘Loma Boys’ of the Accession Town fame supervised by the Sierra Leone Police.
Others who took part in the exercise were personnel from the military, the Metropolitan Police and officials from the Ministries of Lands and Tourism.
The demolition exercise started at the Harris Beach bar with some of its property destroyed.
Proprietress of the bar, Harriet Turay explained to Awoko that she started her business about ten years ago; and that she had paid all taxes required by the Tourism Ministry, City Council and National Revenue Authority (NRA).
She disclosed that, she had “spent over Le 100m in maintenance and repairs, including running costs with eighteen (18) workers to take care of, with the least worker receiving Le 250,000 per month”.
The Proprietress further explained she is in possession of all her documents to prove that she is doing a legal business.
She revealed that the Ministries of Lands and Tourism did not inform them about the proposed demolition; but only issued a quit notice on 18th July demanding that she vacate the area before the 30th September. She lamented over the fact that those who had been working with her are now jobless.
She opined that if government wants to embark on a beautification exercise, beach owners should have been advised as to the type of structures they should erect.
Proprietor of Sea View Beach Bar, Umaru Deen Kargbo, explained that he has been involved in this business for over eight years (8) with 20 workers in his payroll.
He noted that “the exercise was unfair and that it has destroyed the livelihood of employed workers”.
He stressed that his main concern is the security of the beach and the future of his workers.
Prior to the erection of these beach bars the incidence of armed robbery along the beach has been a matter of concern, he said. With these structures demolished, the beach would now become a den for thieves, the Proprietor disclosed.
The proprietor reaffirmed that if government wants to undertake a beautification exercise, they should take cognizance of security threats and job issues. The Deputy Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Hassan Mansaray intimated that the Ministry wants to undertake a beautification project of the beach to attract Tourists.
He refuted claims by beach owners that they were operating legal businesses; stressing that they were operating without paying income tax and also NASSIT for workers and that he has substantial evidence to proof that.
Responding, Umaru and Harriet debunked the Deputy Minister’s remarks, noting that they were paying income tax; but for NASSIT, they were on the verge of making arrangements to the effect. By Abibatu Kamara