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Sierra Leone News: Citizens call for improved water service

waterAs the country goes proper into the dry season, citizens of Freetown are beginning to worry how they are going to cope with life without adequate water supply, especially with the present Ebola crisis, which also needs huge amounts of water to contain.
Awoko sought the views of some citizens, especially in the eastern part and those residing in hill top communities who were concerned about the huge challenges they face daily to access water for use, which sometimes is accessed through unsafe channels.
A mother of three, Mabinty Koroma, explained that the economic situation in the country is not easy, and Guma Valley has added extra burden on her life, because there is no pipeborne water in her locality, as a result, her children walk for miles to access water.
Abraham Conteh, who resides at central Freetown said he has pipe borne water in his area, but it does not flow daily, which also is unacceptable in a city, with over two million residents.
He noted that each time, Guma Valley goes on air, officials will allay the fears of the public that the institution is undergoing a restructuring process, and all will be fine soon, and that’s where it will end; all talk and no action to deliver the service.
Another resident of Hill Station, Mohamed Timbo, in a very disappointed and frustrated mood, informed Awoko that for several years, he has been purchasing water from Guma Valley and most times it is not delivered on time.
He wondered why can’t Guma provide pipeborne water in the city, instead of selling water in tankers, which is expensive, and most times, pipes are cut or stolen, because management does not take responsibility to ensure that all pipes are laid properly, as prescribed in the water regulation.
Another citizen, John Coker, said that water is a big challenge, but that should not deter the water company from meeting the demands of the public, instead of always making excuses.
A retired Guma Valley employee, said before now, institutional arrangements for the sector were far and in between, as there was an absence of Government bodies to carry out policy and regulatory functions, like proper planning, which is responsible for the present state of affairs, routine maintenance and sustainable management of water, both in the city and rural communities.
With the new National Water and Sanitation Policy, the Guma Valley Water Company is charged with the responsibility to provide Freetonians with portable pipe borne water, round the clock and the Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO) is to provide water to rural communities including small towns.
These two water institutions over the years moved side by side, trying to overcome the many challenges involved to provide quality, affordable water to citizens.
Despite the challenges and Guma Valley being the bigger of the two, SALWACO, it seems, the rural and small town water provider is making more head way in overcoming its challenges to provide service, than the latter.
SALWACO in recent times has improved on service to rural communities and small towns, which is in line with the WASH sector strategy, but Guma is yet to live up to the challenge.
Water is life, and if Sierra Leone belongs to the Global village, access to quality and affordable water is a must, as it will help immensely to reduce water borne disease in the country, which is all part of the 2015 MDG’s.
By Ade Campbell
Friday November 28, 2014

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