By Ralph Sesay
Government has announced the commencement of feasibility studies for the mega Rokel River Water project. This is according to the Minister of Water Resources, Dr. Jonathan Tengbeh.
The studies, according to the Minister, would provide relevant details like cost analysis and other critical information that would be of relevance to potential donors and government. The studies, which have already commenced, will end in five months.
The Water Resources Minister also disclosed that Government is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with donor partners to eventually fund the project, which is expected to complete approximately by 2022.
The Rokel River Water Project is an initiative to bring water from the Rokel River, in the North of Sierra Leone, through big towns and villages like Newton, Waterloo and Hastings, etc. The source has been prospected to be sustainable throughout the year and it is expected to solve Freetown’s perennial water problem.
Freetown residents and those in other parts of the country are having an acute shortage of water and this has led to issues such as teenage pregnancy and early marriages. The education of children, especially the girl child, has been seriously affected as a result of their quest to secure portable drinking water for their homes.
A civil society working on the empowerment of the girl child has undertaken a project that is geared towards improving on their education alongside solving the water needs of the girl child. This is against the backdrop that the issue of water is closely related to the many issues challenging the educational progress of the girl child.
Government has also disclosed that it has completed the three towns water project and funding has also been secured for the rehabilitation of water facilities in Kailahun, Moyamba, Magburaka and other districts in the country, while plans are also underway to start the reconstruction of new facilities in other districts where such facilities are nonexistent.
Mr. Jonathan Tengbeh has told this medium that they, as a Government, view the mega Rokel River Project as the only sustainable solution to solving Freetown’s acute water problem.
President Julius Maada Bio has stated in the state of the nation’s address that his government will create affordable drinking water for the residents of Sierra Leone and noted that this has been a perennial problem for the last six decades in Sierra Leone.
He noted that his government will increase access to safe drinking water through the construction and expansion of existing water treatment and distribution facilities in Freetown.
Government has also promised to protect all watershed areas against deforestation and other environmental problems and also undertake reforms in the sector, including unbundling water generation from distribution as was done in the energy sector.
By Ralph Sesay