On the re-opening of SLPP Office … “We would never encourage violence” John Benjamin...

Sierra Leone News: World Bank hears from landslide survivors

Parminder Brar

Parminder Brar

On 17 August 2017, Parminder Brar, Country Manager of World Bank Sierra Leone, visited the Martomeh community at Regent, the scene of a deadly mudslide that buried houses at the foot of Mount Sugar Loaf. Brar visited affected sites again on 25 August.
He visited the Bethel Primary School, which currently provides temporary accommodation for hundreds of people displaced by the disaster. He had a chat with the survivors and he encouraged them to be strong even as they come to terms with the catastrophe that has befallen them and their communities.
Saidu Bangura, a resident at Pentagon who witnessed the dreadful disaster, told the Country Manager that the once sparkling community now lies in complete ruin, being reduced to debris and glimmers of the concrete structures that hitherto dotted the sprawling area. The community hosted hundreds of houses (concrete and makeshift – ‘pan bodies’) but all are now being covered by giant rocks and mud hauled from Mount Sugar Loaf.
“I first saw very thick smoke in the skies and within minutes, there was a deafening blast coming from the Regent end. All we could see now were houses being washed away by floods,” he narrated his ordeal. “The height of the flowing flood water was the reason for the untold destruction that happened; even very big houses were washed away.”
Bangura showed evidence of the destruction from his phone, which he used to film the incident as it unfolded, even as he wrestled with the muddy water to save some of his property. “I saw over 20 people clinging onto branches of a mango tree, crying to be rescued; but the height and volume of the water would not allow anyone to reach them. They were eventually swept away as a giant boulder knocked down the tree,” he further explained. Bangura frowned at people registering as affected persons when they are not.
Aminata Thulla lost 20 family members to the disaster but only the bodies of seven could be found. She narrated the rescue of her younger sibling’s one-month-old baby by a rescue team four hours after he was swept away from his mother, who didn’t survive the disaster. The boy is recovering at a private clinic at Lumley.
Unisa Bangura narrowly escaped death. His house, which was located very close to a running stream, didn’t take long to be overwhelmed by the floods. He said he had decided to go back to sleep after performing the early morning Muslim prayers when he heard a loud blast. “I rushed outside to see what was happening and I saw water and rocks pounding houses,” he said. “Then I realized we are in serious trouble. I had to dash for safety, leaving behind all that I had worked for in my entire life.”
He said majority of residents at Kamayama and neighboring communities are poor people, and may have formed a large percentage of victims of the disaster. He said the community was congested with houses and people because acquiring land there was cheap.
By Moses Kargbo, World Bank Communications
Monday August 28, 2017.

Comments are closed.