As Boulders which are supported by fragile earth waits for the slightest downpour to make another death trail; shacks in flood prone plains continue to sink gradually.
These are some of the environmental threats which most of the makeshift abode in Freetown and it’s environ are faced with.
Recently a mudslide at New England Ville caused huge rocks to roll down the hill crushing a baby that was resting blissfully in one of the hilltop dwellings; while in Kroo Bay, flooding accounted for this year raised by 12 inches, residents disclosed.
Permanent Secretary Ministry of Works, Mohamed Nallo disclosed that it was only recently that housing was incorporated into the Ministry, and with regard to the policies relating to housing, he is not well informed.
The entitlement of housing rights under the International Bill of Rights which made mention of habitable housing state that “adequate housing must be habitable.
In other words, it must provide the inhabitants with adequate space and protect them from cold, damp, heat, rain, wind or other threats to health, structural hazards and disease vectors. The physical safety of occupants must also be guaranteed.”
Abu Kamara who resides in one of the disaster threatening abode has resigned to fate “I have nowhere to go. If I’m going to die by stone so be it; whatever happens is destined by God,” he said despondently.
Flood victim Allieu Saidu Turay who resides at Kroo Bay- a shanty settlement with over 10,000 habitants and three toilets- opined that, “the massive deforestation up the hills surrounding Freetown, has led to soil erosion. This is responsible for the clogged drainages which caused flooding in the community,” he said. Saidu Turay who has resided in this slum for over 20 years recounted, “before now the crocodile river and the drainages that run through the community to the Atlantic Ocean was clean and deep, but now due to deforestation and the inadequate sanitation, the river and the drainage are now shallow, and the slightest cloudburst would lead to flooding in the community,” he maintained.
He furthered, “taking into consideration the kind of structures we are having in this community, water can easily access our houses.”
Subsequently, he said that, “the dry up mud after the flooding would increase the previous soil layer. As the community floods and the soil layer increases, the shacks kept sinking”. He explained that the flood also exposed the community to diseases, as it often leaves behind decomposed animals, human faeces and the like.
Housing conditions are deplorable and the health situation and environmental threats are alarming. By Ophaniel Gooding