FLASHBACK : Sierra Leone: 2007 is a Messianic Year

Published on January 23, 2011 by Cocorioko News   ·   No Comments

The realization of a better life for Sierra Leoneans has been hinged on the year 2007 in which elections will take place. Go to Freetown, the coastal capital of the West African state of Sierra Leone, you will find one of the most frustrated people in the today’s global community. But whatever inadequacies you discover, if make any enquiry, you will be told that the problem would be solved in 2007.

The Independent (Freetown)
OPINION
April 25, 2006
Posted to the web April 25, 2006
Alpha R. Jalloh

The realization of a better life for Sierra Leoneans has been hinged on the year 2007 in which elections will take place. Go to Freetown, the coastal capital of the West African state of Sierra Leone, you will find one of the most frustrated people in the today’s global community. But whatever inadequacies you discover, if make any enquiry, you will be told that the problem would be solved in 2007.

Freetown is today the darkest city in the world and at night its residents have to grope in the dark to find their way about on pothole ridden streets. For those who are not careful or unlucky, they end up falling into a ditch and might even sustain a broken part of the body. That is what Alimamy Bangura, a security guard in a private firm at Lamina Sankoh Street experienced some months ago. He had had to part with his meager salary to cure his foot and still feels frustrated over the issue. He wonders why the Sierra Leone Raods authority could not do a simple job as to resurface streets or make better sidewalks. The current ones a merely traps for pedestrians who unsuspectingly step into the poorly made slabs and end up falling into gutters.
If you go to the colleges, the greatest frustration of students is the astronomical increase in fees. But they have been given a common promise: the fees will be reduced in 2007.

Residents in the east of Freetown everyday scramble to get poda podas (commercial vehicles) to travel to the center of the city. They find it hard to get one that takes them directly, They are dropped halfway by the drivers who usually just go a few yards and collect passengers again for the final destination, thus forcing passengers to pay twice for a single journey. And when they complain, the drivers tell to tell their government to provide buses. But there is good news. Buses have arrived. As usual, they will be in the streets in 2007. Glory be to 2007! Water has become very scarce in the east of Freetown and its environs. Many residents have to buy water for drinking and doing domestic work. Worst of all every house owner who does not own a tap has to compulsorily pay water rates because Guma Valley Water Company which is responsible for water supply, asserts that those who not won taps use the taps of their neighbours and therefore must pay rates. The poor have been forced to live desert lives as they cannot afford to buy enough water for household uses especially in homes where there are many children and relatives. But the promise is, by 2007 there will be water supply everywhere.

The Sierra Leone Roads Authority sat all these years without doing any remarkable thing in Freetown the capital and seat of government. They are currently demolishing houses and have begun digging drainages. Why? In 2007, they will resurface the Kissy Bye Pass Road that links Calabatown in the east of Freetown. There has also been a promise to expand the main highway known as Bai Bureh Raod , making it a three- way lane on each side. That is not all, by 2007, the traffic jam that causes drivers and passengers to spend hours on end just to reach Calabatown , which is about six miles from Freetown, will be a thing of the past. A two- way lane on each side will be constructed across the Mount Aureol in 2007. Allehluliah!. 2007 is a messianic year for Sierra Leoneans! Praise the Lord!

After almost eleven years of war, Sierra Leoneans are grappling with the harsh economic conditions that have reduced many to economic invalids. Many families find it difficult to get a square meal a day. The salary of an average worker is still around 40 dollars, while house owners are demanding rents in dollars now ranging from 700 to 1000 dollars for two or three bedrooms per annum. And worst of all, the National Revenue Authority has influenced the enactment of a law that compels tenants– instead of house owners –to pay 10% of annual rents as taxes. They call it “withholding tax” but tenants call it “witch hunting tax”. Tenants who attempt to withhold such taxes are giving ejectment notices by their land lords/ladies.

And as starvation looms, the government keeps raising the people’s hopes with president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah’s promise that “by 2007 no one will go to bed hungry”. He has justified his assertion by the formulation of a Food Security Program. Tractors have been donated by Iran and China and they have been distributed. But go to the provinces, you will find out that many of the tractors belong to politicians or party stalwarts.

The 2007 utopianism has become an effective therapy to detraumatise a nation that has been subjected to horrendous experiences during the war and that is still grappling with post-war adversities. There are many good plans but all are for 2007. Frequent electricity supply 2007, reduced fees 2007, employment opportunities 2007, good roads 2007,water supply to areas immediately outside Freetown 2007, food sufficiency 2007. You name it, it will be available in 2007. Glory be to 2007!
But questions critics ask are; will politicians say the truth in 2007? Will Sierra Leoneans vote wisely in 2007? How many people will vote out of principle and not sentiments in 2007? Are the obstrevers acquainted with election ontsgues that always make oppositions cry foul? Will they watch very polling station so that something tricky does not happen somewhere while they are drinking cold beer and dismiss petitions with the saying that sounds outrageous to oppositions, “The elections are free from fear, therefore they are free and fair?”.

Will the voters allow “micro credit politics” to influence their voting in 2007? Who will they allow to rule in 2007? Will there be fair voting in 2007? Will the results reflect the reality? How many average people’s condition will change in 2007?

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