The old Fourah Bay College (FBC) building at Cline Town, east end of Freetown, has become a brothel and hide-out for criminals, Concord Times can authoritatively confirm.
FBC was founded in 1827 as the premier tertiary institution in sub-Sahara Africa, and subsequently upgraded to a university college status in Cline Town in 1876. The college spent its first 112 years in the Cline town location, with six years of those at Mabang Agricultural Academy during the Second World War (1939-45), before it relocated to Mount Aureol post-war, where it is still located.
After the Second World War, the British administration denied pleas by the Christian Missionary Society – pioneers of the college – to return the college to their home campus in Cline Town, as plans had been conceived to build a deep water quay in the Cline Town area, thus Fourah Bay College had to be relocated to the old army barracks on Mount Aureol in 1945.
But since the old Fourah Bay College was evacuated during the Second World War, what remains of the structure is an eyesore at Cline Town – neglected and in need of rehabilitation.
Currently, the entire building is being occupied by criminals and prostitutes, 189 years after the institution was established.
A resident of Kanikay community in Cline Town, Emmanuel Turay, said the old building has been transformed into a hide-out for criminals, brothel for prostitutes and home for squatters.
“There is no proper handling of the building, even the people who reside there are not taking care of it. The government, also, over the years has abandoned it,” he said, adding that large portion of land belonging to the historic site had been taken over by people that have constructed houses on it.
The building, he said, like other historic buildings in the country which was home to ex-slaves, should be protected as monument for present and future researchers.
Tommy Kain, Research and Development Officer at the Monument and Relics Commission, said when their secretariat was established in 2014, their first priority was to protect Bunce Island and the old Fourah Bay College.
“These two historic monuments in the country are already in the UNESCO tentative world heritage list. We want them to be on the permanent list now but we should fulfill certain criteria,” he said. He added that one of the criteria is that they must be of academic importance in Sierra Leone and the sub-region.
Kain disclosed that the first step of intervention by the Commission was the demarcation of a buffer zone and erection of a perimeter fence on the land.
“The second step will be to strengthen the walls of the building. We have been guided by the engineers that did the assessment of the structure as to how we should protect the outstanding universal value of the building,” he told Concord Times.
He disclosed that before their intervention the building had been transformed into a market centre.
He however disclosed that the Commission was yet to decide on the end users of the facility after it would have been protected. But it is mandatory that if we were to put people there, it should serve academic or cultural purposes, he said.
Assistant Superintendent of Police Amadu Rapel Kamara, Support Officer at the Harbour Police Division, told this reporter that they have been trying to evict squatters from the old Fourah Bay College building but to no avail.
“There are criminals using the building as hide-out and a place for marijuana smoking. There are homeless people also that have harboured themselves there,” he said.
He said prostitutes would go to the building because it is very close to the port and when ships and tourists come they take them there to have sex.