History was made last week at the Magistrate Court No. 2 when one Sylvanus Fergusson was sentenced by presiding Magistrate, Madam Manuela Harding who wasted no time in sending the accused to jail for a period of 2 years for what the Police referred to as malicious damage to public property which in this case was a 4- inches water pipe at the Levuma Beach near Gbendenbu village in the Western part of the city.
Last Friday, Sylvanus Fergusson and another colleague were arrested by vigilant Guma Officers acting on a tip off and taken to the Police Station at Adonkia where they were interrogated by the Officers at the Criminal Investigations Department who obtained statements form Guma Engineers at the scene, and requested for the company to provide estimate of the 4 inches pipe which was damaged and the cost of the wasted water caused by the damaged 4 inches pipe.
Following the reading of the charges against him, Sylvanus Fergusson pleaded guilty before the Magistrate and a custodial sentence and a fine were slammed on him.
Since he could not pay the alternative fine, the accused ended up going to jail for taking part in an illegal water connection as a non Guma Worker who did not have authorization from Guma Management to tamper with any of its water installations. His friend, Kabba Sesay was found innocent on all the counts and was later acquitted and discharged by the Magistrate.
It must be remembered that Guma Valley Water Company has been fraught with numerous challenges over the period, and the rampant illegal connections of water constitute a major problem of access to portable water for a good number of residents in the city to the extent that Guma Management has on numerous occasions announced that the public should transact all water supply matters through the appropriate Guma Offices in the city.
Thus the sentencing of the accused, Sylvanus Fergusson is a signal to all who are in the habit of obtaining water supply illegally as one resident of Gbendembu puts it “These illegal connections of water supply and the resultant effect of damages to sub- mains has been responsible for the non availability of water to our homes”.
Madam Fatu Kargbo called on Guma Authorities to stand firm in prosecuting not only the plumbers caught in this act, but to also prosecute the beneficiaries of these illegal water supplies so that sanity would reign in the water sector as every day their pipes with water were being cut by people, thus preventing them from getting water to their homes.