Yesterday, 14 August 2018 Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad remembered those who were struck by the twin disaster of mudslide and flooding a year ago. It was a gruelling and large scale national disaster that took precious lives and destroyed properties worth millions of Leones. As we recalled yesterday and from the various accounts we heard at Regent Village where the disaster occurred, it again dawned that indeed it was a sad moment in the history of our beloved country.
On that chilling morning, 14 August 2017, Freetown awoke to the shocking and sorrowful news of another major disaster brought about as a result of a torrential rain fall which caused a landslide and later flooding which left in its wake individual deaths and destruction of properties at Regent, Kaningo and other places.
The large scale horror which that disaster caused still continues to confound many, those affected directly and otherwise. Thousands of lives were taken by this calamitous human tragedy. Connaught hospital mortuary was over filled with dead bodies; most of them were not recognized. Weeping and wailing by surviving relatives evoked an atmosphere of sombreness almost leading to the running of tears.
Some have argued that before the twin disaster struck residents in the affected localities must have realized that they were risking their lives by dwelling in those places.
Indeed, there is an iota of truth that it is quite correct for people to have abstained from residing in disaster prone areas as they will definitely be exposed to danger.
Lamentably, some did not take the situation seriously by avoiding to do so simply because they were just too obsessed with living in Freetown. There are some who were displaced during the 11 year old war and came down to Freetown. However, since the war ended they refused to return to their places of origin but stubbornly decided to reside in Freetown even under risky conditions.
Others have been arguing that the Government should have long ago taken a very decisive action by preventing people from residing in disaster prone areas.
We have all learnt the bitter lesson that it is dangerous to be residing around the red belt zone.The argument has taken the dimension that people should be forcefully removed from those areas and relocated to other safer places. It is stressed that the Government and other stakeholders should take the cue from the previous incident and takes the necessary steps, devoid of sentiments, to deal with the situation which has now become a perennial one.
It is good that the current Minister of Lands Dr.Dennis Sandy has shown enthusiasm and commitment to remove all those who are residing in disaster prone areas saying they have no business to reside in those places.
The fact remains that the 14 August 2017 ugly episode must serve as a wakeup call on the part of Government and all to take positive strides by putting all the necessary parameters in place to prevent the future occurrence of a similar incident.
As there is a plan to make the disaster zone a historical and touristic site we must also be on our guard to combat those things that will plunge us into another calamity.
Relatedly, the issues the victims are raising bordering on crying foul of not getting the right treatments they claim they deserve must be critically looked into in order to find a lasting solution. However, they must not continue to bask in the notion that until eternity or thy Kingdom Come Government must continue to provide succour for them. Let us continue to remember them in our prayers.