A representative of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP)-North America (SLPP-NA) Branch was on 98.1 F.M. radio this past Sunday, May, 20, 2012. He could apparently not get any regular 98.1 F.M. Moderator to do the programme, so he moderated the programme himself. In a phone-in, he got other avowed SLPP partisans in the United States of America to make incendiary statements spiced with plain lies against the All Peoples Congress (APC) Government headed by President Ernest Bai Koroma. Speaking to Sierra Leoneans at home through the radio, he exhorted them to ‘vote this Government out…so as not to damage the future of our children.’
In that sentence, he flagrantly violated Chapter 2e of the National Electoral Commission Code of Practice, and Sections 112 and 113 of the National Electoral Laws. These laws clearly state that it is the National Electoral Commission (NEC) that should blow the whistle for political campaigning to start. The laws further state that before that signal is given, political parties should “not use the media to engage in activities normally associated with political campaigning.” From the shores of America, the SLPP-NA clearly treated most Sierra Leoneans with condescension-as they were disdainful of our laws.
Why Has Brigidier General Maada Bio Not Disavowed the SLPP-NA Branch’s Illegal Broadcast on 98.1 FM?
For this lawless broadcast, did the SLPP-NA Branch get the approval of the SLPP Presidential candidate, Retired Brigadier General Julius Maada Bio? Or the SLPP headquarters in Freetown? Four days have passed and neither Brigadier Bio nor the SLPP National Executive has disavowed the SLPP-NA Branch’s illegal broadcast on radio. So we conclude that if they are not express in their support for the aforementioned broadcast on 98.1 FM, they gave it their covert support. In that inflammatory lie-reeking broadcast we have another harbinger of the type of campaigning the SLPP aims to conduct this General Elections year-calumny, distorting any perceived glitch in the illustrious record of the Government of President Koroma, inflaming the passions of the voting populace. Underlining this strategic communication thrust-of speaking in international media, of being certain that Sierra Leoneans are yoked with inferiority complex are likely to give maximum credence to voices from America-is the apparent conviction of the SLPP spin doctors that the people of Sierra Leone are fools, and they can be easily fooled, and their emotions toyed with so that they become puppets, with the SLPP ‘brains’ as the puppeteers. Let me take one of the issues raised in the unlawful broadcast in which the SLPP NA-Branch took part-supply of water in the Freetown peninsular.
Guma Valley Water Company’s Contempt for SLPP-NA Broadcast
The SLPP said on radio that the Guma Valley Water Company (a private company, for crying out loud!!) has positioned water tanks to supply water in the Hill Station/Regent-IMMATT area so that Vice President Sam-Sumana, and African Minerals executive, Moseray Fadika, would receive premium service, because of their political clout. Lie!! Yesterday, I went to the Guma Building on Lamina Sankoh Street in the heart of Freetown, and in the tiny fawn-carpeted air-conditioned office on the 4th floor, I spoke with the ‘Creole-ish’ soft-spoken Acting General Manager of the Guma Valley Water Company, Mr. Bankole Mansaray.
Mr. Bankole Mansaray’s tone could barely disguise the contempt for the SLPP-NA Branch. He was appalled that they could try to make political capital out of such a profound issue as the supply of water in the Freetown peninsular. Mr. Bankole Mansaray asked rhetorically: “Are the residences of Vice President Sumana and Mr. Moseray Fadika the only two in the area where the water tanks have been placed?” A definitive “no” to that question!! He furnished the answer: “There are at least a hundred houses between the water tank’s location and the residence of Mr. Morseray Fadika and the Vice President.”
‘It is all about “Gravity,” Stupid!!’
According to Mr. Bankole Mansaray, the main word to explain the location of the water tanks is “gravity.” The water tanks have to be placed at the highest possible point in the mountain area to serve the community-so that gravity would make it easier for the water to be pumped to households. The area behind Mr. Morseray Fadika’s house and the Vice President’s residence is the highest point in the area, and provides the best location for the water tank.
There are Five other such Mini Dams in Freetown
There are five such water tanks and water catchment areas which is part of a fifteen million Dollar ($15,000,000.00) grant project from the Indian Government. These are: (a). Grafton-it is to serve the Grafton community. (b). Allen Town-the water from the existing system at Charlotte Falls is inadequate for the communities there. This is because of the exponential increase in population in the area. (c). Cemetery Blue - in the Wellington area by Phillip Street and Maxwell Street. This is a new source for water. This would be completed by the end of June, 2012. (d). White Water-going to Fourah Bay College/University of Sierra Leone, Mount Aureol campus, right down to Mountain Cut end and Bombay Street. There is a serious problem there due to accelerated deforestation of the area and encroachment by people illegally building on the hillside. This has severely contaminated the weir-reservoir-in the area, making it now unfit to supply water in the area. (e). Thunder Hill, by Texaco, not too far from where Citizen Radio is. The Government of Sierra Leone is sponsoring this building of a new reservoir in this area to the tune of half a million U.S. Dollars $500,000.00).
Building Water Reservoirs Costs a Fortune
This process of building these mini reservoirs to complement the big Guma reservoir has to mean the construction of an embankment to collect the water in. Next, a raw water tank is built to store the water in. Then a clear water treatment plant to ‘treat’ the water to make it fit for human consumption. Pipes have to be constructed to get the water to people. This calls for a lot of money and expertise to meet the demand of a Freetown with a population that is estimated to have grown in ten years from about 1.2 million people to about 2.4 million today.
The Guma Valley Water Company over the past three years pumps on average sixteen million five hundred thousand (16.5 m) gallons of water for use in Freetown – up from the four million gallons of water that was being pumped when the company started in 1961. Then the population of Freetown was only about 300,000. The World Health Organization (WHO) water experts state that each person in a climate like ours would need 15 gallons of water daily for his/her basic needs. To adequately cater for this demand, the about 2 million people in Freetown would need Guma Valley Water Company to be pumping 30 million gallons of water daily. The two main dams supplying Freetown, Guma Dam and Congo Dam, as well as a smaller one in the town of Regent, are all situated in the west end of the city while the bulk of the population lives in the east. The answer would be to build a new dam at the river near Grafton in the far east of the city that would provide water for Freetown’s growing urban population there. But a feasibility study carried out by the British consulting firm, Howard Humphrey, estimated the cost of that dam to be THREE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS!! ($3000,000,000.00)
In the absence of chemically-treated water from Guma, many residents dig wells in swampy areas or collect water from polluted streams and rivers. Drinking such polluted water often makes people sick. It is hardly a wonder that a disease like typhoid that is contracted largely through polluted water or fecal contact (people going to the toilet and not washing their hands, and using cutlery with which they transfer the typhoid virus to others) has become as endemic in Freetown just like malaria.
The main reason for the lack of adequate water in our taps in Freetown is that the surrounding dams are too small, the Chief Engineer of Guma Valley Water Company, Mr. Awoonor Williams, said recently. “We even have to ration water in the rainy season to ensure there is something in reserve when it’s dry,” he said. The water company’s infrastructure is so decrepit that it provides less than 60 percent of the city’s water needs, Williams said.
Patriots: Providing Water for Freetown is a Complex Issue
There are much more complex issues involved with providing adequate water in the densely populated Freetown peninsular. Patriots should try to sheathe their partisan swords and address the knotty issues as a collective challenge. Like massive migration from the rural areas into Freetown during our rebel war years has meant intense pressure on the species-valued forests in the area. Like too many people, including the elite, clearing invaluable tropical rainforests to construct their homes on the mountains of the Freetown peninsular – and reducing the capacity of these forests to help provide waters for the dams which are the sources for our daily water supply needs. The Freetown peninsular is unique. It is the only area in all West Africa where mountains come close to idyllic beaches. Including the historic import of this peninsular (the land where freed slaves from the Americas were settled at the close of the Protracted Holocaust of the Atlantic Slave Trade in the 18th Century), its scenic mountains, there are some of the best beaches on earth here – which could generate over a billion dollars in revenues for government, when handled rightly. The SLPP-North America Branch, and the SLPP generally, are challenged when they criticize what this APC government is doing to do so with decency – with facts and figures. Importantly, the SLPP should come up with alternative developmental models based on clinical facts and figures. It would be helpful if our American-passport holding-Sierra Leonean ‘citizens’ treat their compatriots back home with respect, and do their homework before they open their mouths on details of national politics; and delve into the history books to learn how America developed. In President Ernest Bai Koroma’s leadership we have one of the best Presidents in Africa, and we are proud to say that we are being led by a workaholic visionary President stimulating the best in nearly all of us.