WATER CRISIS IN FREETOWN??
Let’s face it squarely, it’s about time this situation be given particular attention. Water shortage in Freetown is not new and year after year we see the long lines of people queuing for a bucket or gallon or two for this important commodity. WATER IS LIFE: it is not a crisis particular to Sierra Leone alone.
There must now be a JOINT FORCE between the CITY COUNCIL OF FREETOWN ( and Greater Freetown) and the WATER AUTHORITIES of GUMA and other agencies. All constituency Council representatives of Freetown City Council and Headmen must now have a TASK FORCE to get this crisis sorted.
This does not mean government must reject or abandon projects it had embarked upon. I hear and read comments from ‘arm-chair economists’ saying “we don’t need another airport, we need water, electricity …”! Of course we do; they are important needs for life – we need them especially now that these commodities are touching in crisis level.
I recall when I was a young boy many moons ago, clutching my buckets and walking all the way from Mountain Cut (Rowe Street) to Saw Pit, the premises of the Benjamin’s to get clean drinking water especially Sunday mornings before going to church. It was so bad that Mama Eta Wyndham will make sure me and my sister take our births first before travelling all the way back with our buckets of water in our heads to Mountain Cut. For other uses, we will collect water at the running stream at BIG WHARF. That water is then used for other purposes e.g. Washing plates etc. So this Freetown water problem has been on for well over 50/60 years (like the garbage crisis- especially SAMBA GUTTER). Other projects run concurrently with this crisis and it is time we get it solved and it can be if we take a direct strategic approach.
Not because water is short therefore government officials must not attend important conferences. Not because water is short therefore government must not do the roads; not because water is short that medicines must not be provided in hospitals; or specifically planned items or events must not be attended to! The funding and approach for these ‘necessary’ competitive needs are all met, financed and approached differently and that is what the focus must be.
The questions are: What and how are we going to solve this water problem?? GUMA is dry for whatever purpose; so where are we going to get sustained amount if CLEAN DRINKING WATER? Do we take the Libyan (Gadaffe) approach of ‘sucking’ salt water from the Atlantic Ocean and converting it through massive expenditure to get satisfactory result. Lybia ( (under Gadaffe) had the money so if was not difficult- only that it took a long time to construct the pipes around the country to distribute the clean water. Or, as is reported recently, we take water from the a River Rokel through pipes into Freetown on the proposed $450 million project. We have seen this done in Pujehun; water being sucked from the Mao River. Our people must understand, (and indeed they do) that big projects such as these not only take time, but lend themselves to ‘serious’ outside funding; this means, arranging/getting into agreement with outside financiers: [and it is not always IMF or THE Bank of Reconstruction and Development (commonly known as THE WORLD BANK). There are new players in the market and we must have the freedom to negotiate around and not tied into ‘CONDITIONALITIES usually imposed by IMF/WORLD BANK strategists.
Yes we need this water problem solved! and right now. Government must embark on a JOINT VENTURE right this minute to tackle this problem. Meanwhile, our people will continue to exercise that wonderful characteristic of Sierra Leoneans- patience! a commodity very hard to find within other cultures. WATER IS LIFE and we must now direct our attention in solving this WATER SHORTAGE CRISIS!!