The Minister, who was officially launching the three (3) 10,000 liters water tanks in the community, blamed parents for not properly supervising their children and asked how a father can allow her daughter to go out at 2 a.m. in search of water or whether parents accompany their daughters to fetch water or check on them after two or three hours at a tap as some girls use the search for water as an opportunity to go to their boyfriends to have sex and in the process become pregnant.
Mr. Momodu Elogima Maligie II also attributed the acute water shortage in the city to deforestation, that there is less water in the dam for Guma to supply, that leakages were another challenge informing that the current situation is not what the Ministry wants but pipe-borne water supply for the people.
He said construction of a dam at Rogbere Bridge that would supply water to the East of Freetown would address the problem but lamented that the Ebola outbreak and the fall in commodity prices, especially iron ore, affected Sierra Leone’s revenue generation drive to undertake development projects.
Mr. Maligie continued that he has the support of President Ernest Bai Koroma observing that the lack of water results to a lot of problems for which he appealed to the people to pay Le250 for a 5-gallon container for them to appreciate water adding that the project would be handed over to Guma Valley at the end of June this year.
The Sector Coordinator and Operations Manager of the Dry Season Water Project, Mr. Joel Bernard Lawson revealed that the project is from February to June this year, that the days when government failed to provide services for the people are over, that water is a basic commodity intimating that the Guma Dam was constructed in 1961 to supply 300,000 residents in the city that has increased over the years to over 2 million.
Mr. Lawson further disclosed that man cannot live without water, that the young and energetic Minister was appointed only three years ago but has created impact within a short time and quoted the President as saying that he would die for youths because they are the future leaders who would develop the country.
“The Minister of Water Resources is passionate about developing the country, the reason he returned home about his overseas studies. I want to commend the President for appointing young people to positions of trust and responsibility,” Mr. Lawson asserted.
He also recalled last year when access to water was a challenge for which the Minister prepared a plan to address the shortage as a short term measure revealing that the long term solution to the water problem is construction of a new dam and disclosed that the current project is to install 250 tanks all over Freetown from Allen Town to Sussex and 10 bowsers to supply water.
According to the Sector Coordinator and Operations Manager of the Dry Season Water Project, the Ministry has constructed 20 boreholes powered by solar panels all over Freetown, that a lot of NGOs did not construct standard water wells as they were dug during the raining season enlightening that the best time to construct a well is during the dry season.
He went on to reveal that the Ministry has also constructed industrial boreholes for four populated communities including Morgan Lane and Josben at Brookfields promising that government would do more to serve the people and clarified that water is not a political issue but reminded the people to pay for water for the sustainability of the project.
Councilor Sheku Lamin Dumbuya of Ward 384, who chaired the ceremony, recalled last year’s dry season when people suffered to access water but affirmed that the situation has improved drastically, that it was a challenge to identify and construct 20 boreholes in the 49 Wards in the city and reiterated the need for the people to pay for water that is not free the world over.
Representatives from the communities, the Tank Managers and the Water Management Committees in the various Wards were recognized and asked to make statements during which they appealed to the Minister to provide water in hard to reach areas and promised that the tanks would be properly managed and the funds accounted for to Guma Valley.
Other concerns raised by the people were that the people of Sumalia Town attacked workers of Guma Valley and the police over ownership of the dam in the community, that the hose of one of the bowsers that supply water is damaged which results to wastage, that the deplorable state of the road network is some communities is a challenge and that some of the tanks were installed in inaccessible areas.
All the stakeholders also commended the Minister and government for the initiative.