“IN THE ABUNDANCE OF WATER THE FOOL IS THIRSTY”

My attention has been drawn to the water problems in Freetown recently, with numerous pictures of its citizens lined up at water wells and unsanitized and filthy public water spigots to obtain water.

Providing a constant water supply to the city of Freetown was a campaign PROMISE. That they have been unable to satisfy that promise, deserves an EXPLANATION to the people. The people of Freetown are not daft. They know that you have not been able to provide water for the city like you promised. Many of us know that providing water for the city of Freetown is going to be an Enormous task in terms of money labor and infrastructural expenses. This government needs to tell the people the TRUTH.

Here’s what this government needs to tell the people of Freetown:

1. COSTS
The water problem in sierra leone can only be solved with an input of enormous amounts of money in terms of infrastructural development and rehabilitation of the existing pipe lines. Most of the streets in Freetown have to RE-PIPED. That means that underground water pipes have to be laid through out the length and breadth of the city, old pipes checked to see if they are still viable and if not replaced. This is a MASSIVE project.

2. SOURCE OF WATER
government must institute environmental legislation that protects the Guma Valley watershed, otherwise there will be nothing but a steady depletion of the environment’s ability to collect and store water in the dam. The recent pictures of some Government Minister building a massive building on land that was within the confines of the water shed were disheartening to environmentalists like me. Another source of water would be damming of rivers that are close to the western area peninsular like the one that flows over the mabang bridge close to songo. Another option would be a water desalinazation plant. The Rokel dam option might have other financial and environmental impact to the extent that our natural habour is dredged by the river rokel. But then again i’m not an engineer so don’t hold me on that.

2. TAXES
One of the best ways that government can foot such a bill is to collect taxes from property owners in the city of Freetown and its environs that will benefit from the project. The project can be created in Multiple phases. A first Phase would address the eastern part of the city which seems to suffer most from lack of electricity and water supply. A second phase would address water supply needs of the people of central Freetown. A third phase would address the peninsular. Any land owner that fails to pay their taxes would be assessed a civil penalty and continued failure would result in a governmental lien on your property.

3. LEGISLATION
Government needs to enact laws that will protect the interest of the Guma Valley water company AND privatize it. Laws must punish for illegal connections, destruction of company property and non payment of water bills. Laws must mandate that each Homeowner MUST install a water line on their property if that property has a habitable dwelling in it with residents. A failure to do so will result in fines and further court action leading up to Governmental liens on the property.

4.WATER CONSERVATION

We loose a lot of water because we have not found ways to conserve it. On my numerous trips to sierra leone I notice the following things:
(a) that there is a massive out flow of water from Guma valley that flows in streams through the seaside villages with the dam area. Government must have policies to recapture and store this overflow. It will at least provide pipe born water water for the immediate surroundings and beyond.
(b) walk through the streets of Freetown and at some place or the other one would find a pipe oozing water because someone else had illegally tapped into a pipe line belonging to another party.
If there are laws that seriously fine people for these acts then they would stop.

5. PROFESSIONAL INCENTIVES
Have you considered what if Government decides to award a prize to any sierra leonean professional or not who could come up with a workable solution to resolving the wastage of water. Lets say that there is a yearly $50,000.00 Prize called the Milton Margai prize for engineering innovation. Can you imagine the wealth of ideas that would come up from people wanting to win that prize. It will be like our own nobel prize for innovation. Instead of relying on FOREIGN persons to help us solve our problems, government can provide an incentive to its citizens to come up with home grown solutions to our problems.

For those of my friends and family who do not have an understanding of the English language, a FOOL is a MUNKOO.
So whats your take on solving the problems of water distribution in sierra Leone.

M. Alieu Iscandari Esq
California USA