By Allieu Sahid Tunkara
Sprawling and stinky Bomeh dumpsite is slowly becoming a terrible disaster to residents of Freetown now, and will be worse in the future.
All dump sites in Freetown share common a feature of uncontrollable filth and odour that has come to attack residents in communities where they are located.
The dump sites are similar in most respect, but the fast growing nature of the Bomeh’s makes the difference.
The fast and over-grown nature of the filth has forced sanitary workers to deposit new and daily-generated filth on the highway sometimes causing traffic congestion.
Passengers in vehicles are discomforted as well as commuters by the pungent of the dump site talk less of residents who stay close.
Residents bitterly and persistently complain over the situation while in the vehicles as the odour rents the air.
The dump site which has become an eye-sore is very dangerous in the dries as well as in the rains.
Sometimes infernos erupt from the dirt in the heat of the day, and floods occur during torrential rains.
Scavenging is not uncommon as the young and the elderly struggles on the dump site in search old shoes, clothes and rubbers for sale as a game of survival.
Scavenging yields economic benefits as they make money out of the sale to the recyclers, but it comes with terrible cost-health hazard.
However, scavengers are clueless about the negative impact which scavenging on a pile of filth would bring to their health.
Most times they search the dust bin with exposed bodies as they use their bare hands to pick whatever object that falls within their sight.
It is a real health concern calling on and compelling authorities to come in and make a difference.
Residents as well as commuters and passengers are at the wrong end as situation continues.
Osman Mansaray is one of the residents at Akram approximately 1km away from Up-Gun Roundabout.
He owns and operates a stall just opposite to the Dump site.
Mansaray explains that the Akram community has been grappling with the hazards of the dumpsite, but it is almost becoming unbearable.
He said the deteriorating status of the dumpsite has been worsened by squatters who erect buildings without seeking permission from the appropriate authorities.
“Squatters have erected a lot of buildings that make it difficult for the dirt to be taken at a distance far from the street,” he said.
However, a closely-guarded secret exists for the teeming population of squatters of the dumpsite. Mansaray says the squatters bribe their way through to have a permanent stay there.
As the number of squatters continues to rise, tongues wag over the reason normal human beings reside in a pile of uncontrollable filth.
The dangers are uncountable and immeasurable as pointed out by Mansaray.
He painted a grim picture of floods and road accidents caused by the dumpsites.
His account indicates that collapse of dwelling houses is caused by floods which he says are not uncommon in the rains while road accidents are rife in the dries.
He also explained about a tragic occurrence in which a house was buried by a flood caused by the overflowing filth of the dumpsite
He said it occurred last year when one of his neighbour’s houses was washed away by floods when the dirt from the dumpsite blocked the running water.
“Most time workers from Freetown City Council clear and throw the dirt to the passage way where water runs through, and that causes the blockage,” he said.
Road accidents, Mansaray says, along the high way by the Bomeh dumpsite is caused by the thick cloud of smoke which obstructs vision.
Several vehicles have involved into road accidents since drivers cannot see themselves when smoke overcomes the environment.
Mansaray similarly explained about a horrific accident where a vehicle ran into another stationary vehicle owing to the smoke.
The road accidents along the Bomeh dump site, he says, have a recurrent phenomenon since they occur every year.
“Most times residents call on the National fire force to put off the fire when it breaks out as a result of the heat,” Mansaray says.
Adama Kamara is a regular commuter between Allen Town and Bombay Lorry Park suffice it to say she passes by the dump site daily.
She is one of those commuters that have not felt well with the location of the Bomeh Dumpsite considering its potential to wreak health havoc on people.
Adama complains that she is badly affected by the dumpsite at any time she passes there owing to the filth and miserable sight.
“Every time I pass by the dumpsite, I have to cover my mouth and nose to protect myself. It is very dangerous,” Madam Kamara said.
Commuters, passengers and residents at Akram have vented out their disgust, but the dump site remains.
Their grumblings of the people revolve around the mandate of FCC, a body charged with the responsibility of ensuring order in Sanitation within the municipality.
In a recent interview with the Environmental Officer at FCC, Sullaiman Zanu Parker clears his institution of any blame of the location of the dump site.
“Although FCC is responsible for the sanitation of the city, it is not responsible for allocating land for location of dump sites,” he told Nightwatch.
The responsibility of allocating land for dumpsites, he says, rests with the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning (MLHCP).
However, Residents in the community say FCC maintains a number of workers paid monthly to take care of the dump site.
An MLHCP official told this medium the land was allocated by the ministry years back for the dump site, but not to squatters.
He says the law outlaws squatting and that most communities in Freetown have been tagged as places unfit for abode.
“Communities such as Bomeh, Moa Wharf, Old Wharf, Mabela, Kroobay and Susan’s Bay among others have been declared inhabitable by the ministry,” he said.
The MLHCP ban on squatting is ineffective as the statistics of squatters continue to roll.
Amie Kamara is one of the squatters at the Bomeh dump site. She told this medium that she had been there for a number of years, and no one has asked her to leave.
When asked how she came to stay at the Bomeh dump site, she responded that she met people there and she also erected a building.
By her responses, Madam Kamara is determined to stay at the dumpsite at all cost regardless of the deteriorating sanitary situation.
She has no plan of returning home considering the benefits she reaps from the community through scavenging.
Madam Kamara says she hails from the provinces, but has come to settle Freetown during the war years.
“I was in the provinces when the war drove us to Freetown to escape death and suffering. I decided to stay in Freetown when the war came to an end,” he explained.