Letter to editor

Letter to President Koroma

31 December 2009 at 04:55 | 819 views

Dear Sir,

First and foremost, congratulations on your elected post as President of the soon-to-be reformed country of Sierra Leone .

Two years ago during your campaign stump for the presidency in the Sanda areas you declared the small town of Mateboi as your rightful place of birth. In doing so you raised the confidence of the Mateboi people and demonstrated that one of us was capable of aspiring for the highest seat in the nation. With that said, it is timely and fitting to draw your attention towards the appalling and deteriorating road conditions from Kamakwie

en-route to Portloko and onto Freetown , the capital. Along its path, this route has two ferries at Banthoroh and Yebalee villages.

Historically, the road as it became known was the brain child of the British colonial administration that was running the affairs of the country. It was this colonial government that developed the one hundred fifty miles artery from Kamakwie to Freetown as they installed the two ferries along the tributary of the Manole River running through Mateboi, Batkanu and Yeebale townships. During and after colonial era this road was widely used by vehicles of all models and sizes. The road was popular for travel because it offered the shortest distance from Kamakwie to Freetown and it offered a connection of famous townships during the colonial period, such as Batkanu and Portloko towns.

Mr. President, it was not without reasons that the British colonial regime had invested and developed this road in particular. By policy, it was first the intention of the colonial masters to create an enabling environment for isolated communities; hence to facilitate travel and to promote trade and commerce. Secondly and most importantly was to expose and link Batkanu and Portloko towns both of which were tourists’ attraction centers during the colonial era. However this all important road and its two ferries left over by the British colonial legacy for nearly 30 years has been conspicuously left to deteriorate abysmally. Subsequent governments have continued to abandon, neglect and under- fund the revamping of this artery. Despite its many tangible and plausible reasons for its construction bad governance proceeded over all intended purposes.

The importance of resuscitating this artery and revitalizing the ferries or replacing them with bridges cannot be over emphasized for the following reasons. First, KASSEH is the native home town of the late Kandeh Bai Bureh, known as a hero of the hut tax war during the 1890s. Bai Bureh was considered liberator of Sierra Leone from colonial domination, a story visitors will like to listen to on the site and regrettably today tourists can no longer visit Batkanu nor can they visit the site of Bai Bureh’s farms where the history of Sierra Leone was enacted.

Mr. President, this is an example of a government reneging from its duties or the best example of bad governance. Although Bai Bureh‘s statute and stature is seated at the museum in Freetown, I am sure the tourists may like to see where the action took place like Bai Bureh’s farm. Secondly, beside the legacy, which speaks for itself along this route, the route was also ideal for trade and commerce. It is believed that the motivating reason for the settling of Lebanese and Syrian traders who had established and opened up businesses at Kamakwie and Batkanu, Portloko, and Mange townships, had been to tap into the emerging new market centers from Kamakwie, Kamalo, Kamranka, Rokulan, Mateboi, Batkanu, Gbinti and Kasseh to name but a few. The new market centers contributed in the production of a variety of perishable goods such as oranges, mangoes, palm oil, cassava and pepper. Above all, the area is the second richest for cattle rearing and sheep farming after Kabala. Tobacco was a popular cash crop in Kamakwie and Sanda areas. However, the inability of the successive post independence administration to repair the road and ferries, which life span had far exceeded expiry mandates by colonialconstructors, brought the local economies to its knees and an indelible blow to the national economy as well.

The interesting fact was the Lebanese and Syrian traders who were dealing with these perishable goods for manufacturing purposes were leaving these commercially land locked vicinities to settle either in provincial headquarters towns or the capital Freetown. The most profound disadvantage for the residents along this route was the sudden and dramatic halt to the growth of their economies. New marketing centers and other commercial activities that had been the building block to upscale suburb economies nipped in their bud stage. Perhaps the following questions should be asked: Why has the government ignored the road this long? With an artery that can boast of twelve health centers, although most of which were individually built, eight secondary education schools, fourteen primary schools and feeder schools, eight renowned chiefdoms, why are these demographics not compelling enough to enhance communication at every level in this area? Or is this too much to ask from the powers that be?

Mr. President, if history teaches any lesson, it is that a people must never ignore or neglect their heritage or legacy. For us and our people, it is necessary to revitalize this ‘line’ to unlock the great historic legacies and the local potential of residents to once more flourish in commercial activities, tourism and foster growth and development. If the ferries can be repaired or converted to bridges this will offer the shortest distance as the crow flies from Kamakwie-Freetown en-route to Freetown.

Recently, the announcement by your administration to rehabilitate twelve major roads with the country was welcoming news. It is our hope that the above mentioned ‘line’ will be fully considered of priority this time in the overall road reconstruction plan of your administration, if not for any reason, but to unlock the once famous route and to expose the panorama of the area.

Many thanks for your cooperation

Idrissa Munu

Former Sanda Progressive Union President

Washington DC, USA