Most of our youths became idle after the end of the war with no jobs. Some then started using the gangster way of life for survival.
Others went into drugs, gambling, prostitution, armed robbery, all in the name of survival.
One paramount area predominantly used by these youths is the Sewa grounds. The ground is meant to be a market center identified by the Freetown City to be used by petty traders.
But the grounds are presently not gentlemanly as drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling, prostitution, robbery with aggravation and street fighting is the order of the day at Sewa grounds.
Sewa grounds is akin to many other trade sites. The Fullahs and Nigerians operate local restaurants, tea shops and ‘ataya’ shops.
There are other sections dealing in local wines (poyoh, pega pak) and also that of marijuana or diamba. The most popular area for that is called ‘old skool’ where marijuana smoking is primarily done.
Young boys below the age of 18 have made the grounds their base together with many other squatters. These youngsters have their own base as it is called where gambling and drug addiction is the order of the day. They prey on those who forget their pockets and bags and the proceeds from their day’s outing is spent on gambling and drug addiction.
There is also another group that can deal in anything so Awoko was told. They are always smartly dressed, presenting themselves as foreign investors.
Constant police raiding have not cleared Sewa grounds from criminals as the gangs there always have their way of escaping police arrest. The ground is definitely not safe at night for non partakers as either you are robbed maliciously or falsely accused by prostitutes for not paying after a round of sex.
Mr Alusine Kargbo chairman, seven man committee Freetown City Council Sewa grounds market explained to Awoko that they were only caretakers of the ground as they are incapacitated to monitor the unwholesome activities. He said it was the police and City Council that was responsible to get rid of hooligans from the grounds.
He explained that “the police will come here at times with two to three trucks to arrests people on Sewa grounds but when they are taken away we see them return to the ground to continue their activities” He stated that one of the reasons for the occupation of the grounds by drug addicts, gamblers and alcoholics, was because the petty traders have refused to utilize the ground.
“We have written several letters to the police and City Council complaining about the disturbing activities on the ground. We cannot do anything as we fear for our lives because if we venture the street boys and marijuana smokers will hurt us”
Sampha Kamara, the coordinator for the seven man committee on Sewa grounds, added that marijuana smoking was disturbing at the ground despite police raids and that they were in constant threat from the inhabitants.