Acute water shortage has become the other of the day and it a serious problem which we are grappling with day in and out. In most parts of the capital city of Freetown, people continue to suffer to access safe drinking water not to talk of for other purposes such as laundering or bathing.
As the saying goes, “water is life” but these days it has become such a precious resource even more than diamonds, very hard to come by. So grave is the situation, posing diabolic consequences for most who are in the process to just get some.
It is solemn to see young children criss-crossing or traversing long distances with jerry-can rubbers and other rubber cans under tortuous conditions, sometimes having to queue for long hours before they can succeed in fetching. Even after fetching, transporting water home especially to mountain top communities is a herculean task, doing so sometimes using locally improvised-made carts pushed with hands.
The ramifications on their growth, educational pursuits, being exposed to violence (most times victims of bullying), social wellbeing are all causes for concern.
Research has confirmed that most kids who are exposed to sustain carrying of heavy containers of water on their heads are likely to later on suffer from stunted growth. More seriously, at a point in time in the evening hours when these kids should be doing their school home works, studying that is the time when they are out and about scrambling to get water.
With this kind of scenario, we cannot expect these unfortunate children to perform well or excellently in school which may be a contributory factor for the rife declining educational standards in the country.
Girls at puberty stages are most times exposed to the wiles of wayward boys and even grown up men who hoodwink or cajole them, ending up to sexually deflower them. At times the unsuspecting girls end up with unwanted pregnancies which may mark the end of their educational careers.
Some take the risk of doing unsafe abortion ending up losing their lives.
Young children are prone to accidents as in some cases they have to cross streets with heavy vehicular traffic; in these days when motor bikes are ubiquitous and the riders are always in haste the dangers are real. Besides, as street lights are most times off the possibility of falling into gutters with broken slabs is great.
In the absence of easily accessible drinking water, people at times settle down less for water fetched from water wells or streams. Such water is most times not pure and therefore not hygienic for human consumption. It can lead to contracting water-borne diseases which may have fatal effects.
These ramifications outlined, as a result of the acute water shortage that has heightened are not mere conjectures but things that are happening on a daily basis and the situation is really pathetic!
Looking at the problem is one thing but getting at the root cause(s) is very much more important.
We are aware that the two main institutions in this country that are responsible for water supply are Guma Valley Water Company for the Western area and SALWACO for the provinces.
To be very sincere to our consciences Guma has not displayed any form of instituting meaningful reforms to address water shortage in the city for a very long period of time.
Much was expected that the Company should have long expanded its water catchment areas, built more dams and reservoirs to match up with the growth in population.
Yes! We agree that Guma was constructed at a time when the population was very small but past Governments up to the current ruling APC Government should have been mindful that no population is static and so therefore have made efforts to move on with emerging trends.
What is so glaring is the lack of maintenance on the part of Guma. Run down street taps are not repaired nor on a regularly basis are new ones constructed.
What beats the imagination is the fact that despite the colossal amounts of money that the Government and development partners (loans or grants) have so-called utilized to make things work not much can be seen.
“Where are all those monies gone?”( Courtesy of popular David Tam-Bayoh Monologue rhetorical song).
We cannot rule out the fact that the negative destructive attitudes of some ill-motivated individuals have compounded the problem.
Instead of some people wait patiently until their turns to fetch water from taps they at times put up fights leading to the destruction of those taps.
It is high time that people should desist from those negative ways of comporting themselves.
SALWACO, on the other hand, had been doing very well in terms of providing safe pure water in the provinces. Under the astute leadership of its Managing Director, the result-oriented Samuel Bangura, SALWACO has made commendable strides in the implementation of the three township water project to benefit residents of Makeni, Bo and Kenema.
However, there are still challenges to overcome with regards extending to other parts of the interior where people are still finding it difficult to easily fetch water.
The Spectator is enjoining the Government and all relevant stakeholders to look at this acute water shortage phenomenon and come up with workable solutions to address it. Those officials who are exhibiting incompetence within the water sector be it in Guma, SALWACO, Ministry of Water Resources must be weed out in order for the masses to be emancipated from acute water shortage year in and out.