First national cleanup ordered by President Maada Bio: in Sierra Leone
On Saturday under new President Julius Maada Bio Sierra Leone held its first “national cleaning day” as part of a campaign to improve hygiene and the work rate of civil servants.
In the capital Freetown’s which is the largest slum in Kroo Bay hundreds of men and women were sifted because of tons of household rubbish and plastic waste that had been blocking the drainage system.
Trader Adama Kamara who lives in the slum said he was thrilled that President Bio was trying to improve the environment “because our country is too dirty”.
All the household waste is discarded in drainages, which continuously become blocked hence causing flooding during the rains, he said.
“After the cleaning, the water can now easily flow through the drainage and empty into the sea, so I appreciate that and I’m happy for that,” he added.
A fisherman in his fifties, Michael Aboidu Frazer, said that the cleanup will have a big effect on the slum dwellers.
The area is “among the disaster prone communities in Freetown with (a) perennial flooding problem which often cause deaths and damage to properties during the rainy season,” he said.
The cleanup was declared last month by President Bio’s office, two days after a rally in which the new leader, a former general who was briefly in power in the 1990s, said he would be a stickler for “discipline”.
In a statement issued by the presidency said that the cleaning days will start on the first Saturday of each month, from 7:00 am to 12:00 noon.
Bio added that all civil servants and government ministers are expected to be at work from 8:30 am until 4:45 pm, and said that he and the vice president will carry out sudden checks.
“Failure to report for work on time will lead to disciplinary action and potential summary dismissal,” the statement said.
There are lots of work to be done said the Health and Sanitation Minister Alpha Tijan Wurie.
“I love the enthusiasm of the people… they clearly want to get their environment very clean,” he told AFP during a spot inspection in central Freetown.
“The process is going to continue (and) it will not stop at just once per month,” he said.
A monthly National Cleaning Day – in which public areas were cleaned of rubbish, trees planted and walls repainted was brought in during the 1992-1996 junta led by Captain Valentine Strasser, who was defeated by Bio, then his deputy.
From time to time the monthly cleanup was reestablished by following regimes. Bio took office in early April after a wild election campaign, ending a decade-long rule by the All People’s Congress (APC).
Sierra Leone one of the poorest countries on the planet struggles with major problems of infrastructure, such as sewerage, roads and power.