By Ragan M. Conteh
The Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Centre for Positive Attitude and Sustainable Development (CePAD), Daniel Sara Turay, has informed that the Kalanthuba Chiefdom in Tonkolili District has engaged in self-help road construction and tool library concept on treacherous footpaths to feeder roads.
According to Daniel Sara Turay, the Kalanthuba Chiefdom is one of the newly de-amalgamated Chiefdoms in the Tonkolili District of the Northern Province of Sierra Leone.
He disclosed that the Chiefdom is one of the poorest Chiefdoms of Sierra Leone. Kalanthuba is approximately 100 square miles with a population of over ten thousand (10,000) people, adding that it comprises of five sections and forty (40) registered villages.
He went on that the Chiefdom is less than five percent accessible by vehicles, making most of the villages in the Kalanthuba Chiefdom inaccessible by reliable roads. He informed that this situation in the Chiefdom is responsible for the low primary school attendance, low commercial activity, especially in remote villages, and lack of access to healthcare in many villages.
Children, according to Mr. Turay, commute to school in difficult circumstances daily, especially in the rainy season, because of lack of safe roads. Many parents keep their children home during the rainy season because the footpaths can be treacherous, especially when they cross streams that overflow their banks with no culverts and bridges.
“Agricultural marketing is also made difficult in the absence of roads, as crops must be transported along these same paths and carried on heads. The long distance and considerable time working on foot serve as disincentives to engage in commercial activities,” he said.
He revealed that, in a bid to address the compounded lack of road access, culverts and concrete bridges, especially to remote villages, the Chiefdom authorities and key stakeholders in 2017 embarked on self-help road construction as a way to increase accessibility and facilitate traveling by either vehicles or bikes, and to promote sustainable development in the areas of education, agricultural marketing and healthcare.
Mr. Turay spoke on the immediate challenge, which is the inadequate availability of appropriate tools to construct roads, culvert and, bridges to address the much needed facilities and overall development in the chiefdom. Village working groups have taken considerable initiatives in this regard but would need a stable supply of appropriate tools in good condition.
The CEO reiterated that the effect of this supply, alongside encouragement by chiefdom and village leadership, would lead to the periodic construction of new roads. He intimated that, even though considerable efforts have been made by tilling the road pathways, another major challenge remains in the construction of culverts and bridges, which cannot be easily done by the local people as it involves technical skills and funds.
Before this time, Mr. Turay pointed out that tools have been supplied to villages by donations from individuals, but are not enough and sometimes people personalize the use of those tools rather than use them for the intended purpose.
He added that, in order to address this problem, the tool library concept is established as a control mechanism and easy access to the tools.
The CEO opined that the tool library shall be exclusively maintained by a trained library committee in each village and supervised by the chiefdom authorities. We need a steady supply of appropriate tools to every village so that the road construction may continue.
“This will enable more children to safely commute to school, especially during the rainy season, and enable people to travel more easily on foot to markets to sell their crops and community health posts to receive care,” he asserted.
Additionally, Mr. Turay noted that motor access will enable the penetration of the chiefdom by petty traders, which will serve to increase its economic capacity, especially considering crops from remote villages which are desirable in markets.
He furthered that such accessibility will also facilitate the future construction of schools, community health posts and other social amenities, as materials may be more easily transported, and aid penetration to be increased.
“This will only happen if we work as a team and seek support from individuals, philanthropists, Government, MDAs, council and NGOs to name a few. Please, be your brother’s keeper. Thank you very much for giving a helping hand to a newly restored chiefdom with enormous development challenges,” the CEO concluded.
By Ragan M. Conteh