By Al Hassan Bah and Kevin Hill
Ishmail Koroma is a student who lives at Mount Auroel. Everyday he drives his locally made push-truck making trips to carry up to six gallons of water up the hill. For this back breaking labor each trip earns him Le3000 or Le500 per gallon.
“I have been in this business since we started suffering from the shortage of water. For residents around Mount Auroel, taps usually open around 2.00am. We usually get up from sleep to get tap water to reserve it, so that we can have tap water for the day: especially to drink. We have access to well water, but it is not good to drink. For the past couple of academic years I have been able to pay my schools fees with this business”, he said.
The shortage of water supply within this area is due to the destruction of the water pipes and dam near Fourah Bay College. Some people seeking access to water are cutting the plastic pipes that run above ground or through gutters. They collect the water they need and leave the cut pipe spraying water, disturbing the flow of water to residents down the line.
Freetown is facing a difficult time with its water supply. Overpopulation and low rainfall is causing a situation where scheduled stoppages of water service are required. Unrepaired leaks and illegal connections by people desperate to gain access to this necessity of life are making this difficult situation even more chaotic.
According to Guma Valley maintenance worker Gibrilla Kamara, the shortage of water supply with in the Freetown municipalities is due to the exposure and cutting of the water pipes by people seeking to create illegal connections, or simply easy access to water.
“That is why we are facing a lot of disconnections along the roads. Residents who are paying their water rate bills are suffering as people are destroying pipes along the roads with knives and blades at 4:30AM to find water before the shut down of taps. So resident pipe owners cannot even have a drop of water to make use of within the day”, said Mr. Kamara.
One such resident in the area is Mr. Osman King George. He said that residential pipe owners “have suffering every blessed day. To maintain our pipes, the only way to solve this problem is to dig and bury the pipes under the ground. The public is sometimes responsible for the shortage of water supply in the Freetown municipality,” he said.
The public should work together with the Guma Valley Water Company to report any pipe cutting, leakages and illegal connections that are creating disturbances in the distribution of Freetown’s water supply. Until then, there will not be enough drinking water to meet the needs of residents in this growing city.