Residents of Tengbeh Town and its environs were awakened with shock and dismay on Tuesday night as Officers of the Metropolitan Police in the company of the Sierra Leone Police Personnel and masquerading thugs stormed the area to demolish structures along the wayside.
The demolition team, armed with machetes, hammers, sticks and batons have been accused of stealing and carting away valuable items worth millions of Leones.
The demolition exercise which is been carried out haphazardly, without prior notice to victims, is normally done while resident’s mostly petty traders were fast asleep.
Abibatu Conteh, one of the affected shop owners, was disappointed as she stood by the demolished structures, with tears flowing down her cheeks as she narrates the ordeal she went through in the hands of the demolition team.
“The demolition left me in abject poverty as this shop was my only source of income to sustain my family; my husband is not employed and my children would also be thrown out of school” she lamented to our reporter.
Abibatu and other shop owners alleged that Officers from the Freetown City Council were given Le 500.000.00 (Five Hundred Thousand Leones) with the assurance that their shops would not be demolished.
The shop owners disclosed that they were advised to push back from the sidewalk, which they did.
The affected shop owners and residents of Tengbeh Town are calling on the APC Government to suspend the demolition exercise until proper mechanisms are put in place, as most of the people affected by the demolition exercise had paid their taxes and also registered their businesses, with authentic documents to the effect.
Officers at the Freetown City Council, on the other hand, are defending the demolition exercise on the pretext that, the makeshift structures are giving the city a very bad look describing it as an eye sore to citizens and visitors to the country.
The demolished structures are mostly inhabited by unemployed youths who are mainly living in squalor and sheer misery and have no source of income to sustain them; as such many Sierra Leoneans would continue to suffer, opined a senior civil society activist.
By Saidu Bah