By Maada K. M’boma
Several warnings, stopping people residing beneath constructed bridges seem to fell in deaf ears. The past and present governments have issued out warnings but people paid no attention. Relocations have been announced and people are shown the located areas like those presently residing at Six Mile. While certain people vehemently refused to move, waiting for other humanitarian assistance whenever there is disaster.
The bridges are constructed on water ways. Blocking water ways with structures create the undesirable incident, mostly lead to loss of lives and property worth billions of Leones. In lieu of the foreseen, government has asked all residing in disaster prone areas to vacate and be relocated to a safer zones and communities to avoid loss of lives. Some accepted the relocation options, while others refused and continue to stay at catchment areas and beneath death trap bridges like the fallen Jokie Bridge. Every rainy season there is disaster running to millions of Leones, and people living in these disaster areas are still crying for humanitarian assistance.
The bridges have been flooded with water as a result of constructed structures, weakening their strength to withstand mounted tension. And in the end, they have no alternative but to collapse, kill people and destroy property. There is no need to send the police to chase them out of these areas and urge them to be relocated. With common sense you can measure the amount of risk you are taking to live in the disaster prone areas.
We are tired of hearing disaster in the same areas. Yes people want to live in Freetown and it is their rights, but their responsibility is to reside in areas free from disaster threat. You cannot continue to live under the bridge, and in time of disaster expecting government to take up your responsibility. The responsibility stars the first day you are looking out for a place to stay. We believe the government cannot locate any of its citizen under a bridge or a place close to the water way. Government should ensure that people under the bridges, by the bridges or water way be forcefully removed and relocated to avoid unnecessary burden in time of disaster. It is heart rendering to see government taking responsibility to help as a result of the peoples’ own miscalculation.
Jokie Bridge has collapsed, bringing in uncalled for expenditure to the government with a loss of human life. It is a matter of most that the government needs to reconstruct the bridge urgently to attending to the flow of traffic in that area. Nobody is expecting miners to mine clay beneath the bridge, looking at the age and disposition of the bridge. Government cannot be everywhere. It is the responsibility of the people living in that area to inform government about the mining activities carried out by people residing or non-resident in order to have protected the bridge from such calamity. We are not saying the miners collapsed the bridge, but could probably be one of the factors to the demise of the bridge.
Freetown is the seat of government, and we must ensure that Freetown is relatively clean and safe. People should not use the bridges to defecate or to throw garbage. Most of the people living by the bridges are without toilets facility, and are subjected to this kind of disreputable activities. The make shift buildings underneath the bridges are deplorable, government needs to pay attention to maintain the decency of the capital city. We are not advocating for them to be forcefully driven by the government but to be relocated in disaster free zones.
And again, it is believe that most of the people living in the disaster prone areas are disengaged and are highly involved in criminal activities. On a while, it is good to raid these areas to know their development agenda in relation to government activities. Most times it is difficult to find members residing in these areas especially, during the day. You can mostly find them in time of disaster, making claims on the values of property lost to disaster.
How long should the government continue to address the issue of disaster, when the government can easily asked them to vacate? Yes the government should care for its citizens, making them comfortable. It is the duty of the citizens to comply with the dictation of government to avoid embarrassment. People should consider moving from these areas to allow the water to take its natural course. We are tired of paying sympathy, dishing out money and materials to assist the victims.
This time around, government should endeavour with all determination to remove squatters from these disaster prone areas, relocate them, save our bridges from collapse and other disasters. A word to the wise is quiet sufficient!