October 1, 2022

At Six Mile…

Dying Mudslide Victims To Pay Le250, 000 as Rent

Victims of the famous Matormeh mudslide disaster, which shocked the whole world, have been tasked by President Bio’s government to pay Le 250,000 monthly as rent for the houses provided them by three indigenous (Sierra Leonean) companies -Pavifort, Gento and Secon – under the previous APC government.

It will be recalled that the three indigenous companies have built houses for 52 families at Mile Six outside Freetown. Three other houses were also built for orphans.A church and mosque were also added. The facilities have solar lights and borehole water wells.

President Koroma commissioned these facilities before leaving office in December 2017. Since then the facilities had remained closed until when the new Government, under the moribund Sierra Leone Housing Corporation, started allocating the houses to the mudslide victims from Kaningo, Matormeh, Culvert and Kamayama disaster camps.

According to Abubakar Kamara, a victim who moved into the facilities at Six Mile early August, together with his family, the Ministry of Social Welfare has registered 11,000 mudslide victims as survivors in all the five communities.  He noted that only twenty three families have been cleared by SALHOC to use the facilities at Six Mile for Le 150,000 for a two bedroom apartment and Le 250,000 for a three bedroom apartment, respectively.He said that they have occupied only 23 of the 52 apartments while the others remain empty.

Mr. Kamara told the nightwatch that a good number of other survivors are currently languishing in the streets of Freetown while the Sierra Leone Housing Corporation continues to do the rest of the allocation of the other apartments at a very snail pace.

Head of the Estate at Six Mile, Mr. Eric Mohamed Jusu, told the nightwatch that they are not protesting but appealing to the Government and other well meaning organizations to come to their aid and improve their living conditions. He noted that the facilities at the estate are virtually incomplete and lack basic amenities that will make life conducive for them. All the doors and toilet fittings, at the estate, have been vandalized by thieves, he noted.

Ismail Bangura and Musa Sesay, fathers of families of four and five, respectively, have been forced to move their families from Freetown to the estate at Six Mile. Accordingly, they sleep in the open together with their little children.

According to them, they have complained the Housing Corporation over its reluctance to relocate them to the facilities a year after the disaster that left them homeless.

Residents have attributed the snail pace in the allocation to the two damaged septic tanks out of the four large ones at the Estate facilities. Authorities at SALHOC have displayed sheer carelessness to fix the problem,thereby allowing these victims to relocate to these houses.

Many victims are currently being evicted out of houses in Freetown while some are living in places that are not habitable. Most of the victims, who have moved in, were the ones rescued and hospitalized at Connaught Hospital when the disaster struck in August,2017.

Some have very serious deformities and with some even disabled for life.They have blamed the Disaster Unit of the Office of National Security for not giving them the required attention as victims who have suffered a lot.

“We are currently not very healthy enough to work and earn a living. We have just been discharged from Connaught hospital. We have no additional incentives and government is now tasking us to pay.Where does government expect us to get monies to pay for these houses? Alhaji Jalloh and Mark Junior Lebbie, who are victims that sustained injuries during the Matormeh disaster, asked.

The facilities at Matormeh are incomplete. There are no health facilities, no market, no community center and no clean and pure drinking water. Worst of all, the families of the disaster victims, currently living at SixMile, have children who are of school going age. Regrettably, however, there is no school at Six Mile where the children will go to learn. The nearest primary and junior secondary schools are privately owned and, according to Abubakar, are a mile away in a village called Mayeneh.

“We could not send our children to Crossing Junction in the Freetown highway,which has some government assisted schools, because of the pending danger to our little kids,” noted Abubakar.

Residents are urgently appealing to the President to consider them with basic social facilities such as school, water and sustainable electricity while also removing the imposed rent on them as these buildings were specially built for them due to the disaster that affected their former areas of residence.

The previous APC government had mismanaged the huge donations made towards the response in the form of foam matrasses, food and non food items, cooking utensils which should have formed part of the package to be used by the victims in their new home at Six Mile.

These goods were carted away by the people who were managing the response. All what these victims could realize, as a final package, was the two million, one hundred and seventy five thousand leones (Le 2,175,000) with few food and non food items.

By the estimation of the APC, the money was to provide these victims with accommodation, feeding, health and schooling needs for their children for the rest of their lives.

Many people are wondering whether the Sierra Leone Housing Corporation, under the New Direction has really done their job of thoroughly assessing the conditions under which the structures at Six Mile were before they were handed over to them. How would they have thought of relocating these victims to an estate that is hugely vandalized and incomplete and subsequently charging them exorbitant amounts to pay as rent?

It is contractual that tenants pay rent when the houses they are paying for have all the basics. This is not the case with the Sierra Leone Housing Corporation, which wants the mudslide victims to pay for houses which were built for them by their compatriots – Gento, Pavi-Fort and Secon – as their contribution to the response.

Where are the Ministry of Social Welfare and our International Non-Governmental Organizations that were working in the disaster response at the Matormeh mudslide disaster? The real victims of the disaster that shocked the world are languishing outside Freetown with no proper accommodation, markets facilities, sustainable light, schools for their promising kids and proper toilet facilities and water. Oxfam abruptly abandoned the water project they were doing at the estate at Six Mile, thereby leaving the victims to survive from borehole water wells which they have complained is not very pure.

“We are specifically appealing to UNICEF and the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education to do an immediate assessment at the mudslide estate at Six Mile with a view to temporarily solve the educational needs of the very promising mudslide survivors’ kids who want to enjoy from the President’s Free and Quality Education Program. At the moment the estate has a very good number of kids that are of school going age but the unavailability of a school around the estate stands to threaten their education.

The needs of the victims of the August 14th mudslide residents at Six Mile are numerous and the intervention, especially, of the humanitarian organizations working in the country will be very timely than ever before.

The General Manager of the Sierra Leone Housing Corporation has refused to comments on the issues raised around the estate even when our reporters made reasonable attempts to get their own side.