Freetown has been experiencing acute water shortage during the dry season for the past couple of years. A measure put forward to address the situation is to demolish houses at Sugar Loaf and the Babadorie water catchment areas. While this planned demolition has been put on hold, residents of the communities have a different story.
A visit to the Congo Dam by a team of journalists shows the main pipe supplying water from the Dam to the Babadorie Reservoir is completely blocked with mud. This has stopped the flow of water to the reservoir since February this year, a youth whose name is withheld claimed in an interview.
Some youth in the community said that Guma Authorities contacted them to clear the mud so that the water will flow easily to the reservoir. They asked for Le20 million but Guma was only ready to pay Le10 million. They refused, the youths said because what the authority offered was too small compared to the job.
The Guma Valley Water Company (GVWC) is a state owned enterprise responsible for providing water to Freetown and the Sierra Leone Water Company (SalWACO) is responsible for the rest of the country. Guma Valley authorities say the Congo Dam dried up and they are not aware of any blockage of the main pipe.
Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone Dr. Marah visited the site with the aim of finding lasting solution to the water crisis. There has been intense pressure from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs,) the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone and the general population on addressing the water problem of Freetown. Guma Authorities are putting the blame on Sugar Loaf and Babadorie communities for encroaching on the water catchment area.
The population of Freetown that the dam was built for has quintupled to 1.5 million people. But the facility remained the same. The need for housing has also increased with the Ministry of Lands providing pieces of land to people to build homes.
Demolition of homes is never a lasting solution to the water problem of Freetown. Guma Authorities should ensure wastage of water is controlled, the pipe linking communities to Congo Dam is cleared, the authorities should be working to provide water to the city from Rogbere and other sources and the Ministry of Lands should do the sale of land in an environmental friendly way that would not distress people in the end.