Residents in the eastern town of Kenema have expressed their disappointment with the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) Government over a network of poor infrastructure within the township. Most communities in Sierra Leone face a common problem of poor infrastructure, but Kenema will be counted as the worst.
The township of Kenema is in bad form as potholes have littered major streets making it a constant source of worries for residents. Life in Kenema is dull and boring with hardship written on the face of able-bodied youths talk less of the elderly.
It is a town that attracted the hottest campaign trips by major political parties especially the two traditional parties-the ruling SLPP and the main Opposition, All People’s Congress.
But, now Kenema has been left to perish in the wilderness and the name ‘Expensive Kenema’ is all but name.
The current prevailing circumstances portray Kenema residents as townsmen of a stiller town.
The most vulnerable group of residents is pregnant women who use the roads daily to access medical services.
Since Maxwell Khobe is fastly relegating to a death trap status, pregnant women have been advised by medics not to use it to save the lives of their unborn babies.
The residents are not happy with the manner SLPP Government handles the overall development of Kenema, a town dubbed an SLPP stronghold.
They attribute the township’s bad state to a persistent neglect of government despite brilliant and beautiful promises the party made in the 2018 campaign.
One of the attractive promises made by President Bio while he was campaigning in the district was giving Kenema town a befitting tarmac roads network about 35 square miles.
Amara Kanneh is a resident in Kenema town and plumbing is his main occupation.
He is weary and bored by the repeated and unfulfilled promises of Government.
“We are tired with the promises of this government; we want to see reality,” Mr Kanneh Said.
As the bad state of roads continues, residents have dispelled rumour of government’s intention to do them as no such sign exists.
Kanneh however equally appreciates the minute contribution government has done towards alleviating their plight.
“Since this government came to power, we have only seen Dama Road as the only project fully done by the SLPP Government. The rest was pioneered by the past government,” he said.
In what appears an apparent, but fake move to pacify Kenema residents, the Board Chairman of the Sierra Leone Roads Authority assured Kenema that government has approved the construction of 10Km roads for their community.
Residents in Kenema from the outset were highly hopeful of rapid development strides once President Bio is at the helm of state command.
Their hope has been kept alive at all times especially as their sons form the cream of decision and policy makers in the government.
However, the Kenema sons are yet to pay attention to their homeland. The turning of backs against their homeland by the sons has been seen as a horrific irony for the SLPP government. Kenema being the district and regional headquarters for eastern province is strategic in that most of the country’s food and cash crops come from that region.
The region, no doubt is a significant contributor to Sierra Leone’s GDP, but it is one of the few districts that did not benefit much of the infrastructural facelift enjoyed by other districts.
They did not enjoy a direct and cordial relationship with the past government evidenced by frequent waves of protest over what they referred to as a ‘mourn for the death of democracy’ in Sierra Leone.
In most of former President Koroma’s visits to the town for discussions bordering on development, they welcome the President in thick black cloaks to mourn for perceived deteriorating democratic credentials of Sierra Leone.
By all indications, it was a show of resentment for the President including the development projects he was going to showcase to the people of Kenema.
Between 2007 and 2012, infrastructure was at the heart of the Koroma-government as it occupies a proud place in the Agenda For Change (AFC) which was a key governance policy.
Since investment in Infrastructure is one of the thematic areas in AFC, major communities benefitted from good roads and tarred streets.
It can be expressed without any fear of contradiction that the network of good roads in Sierra Leone, the tarmac roads in towns and cities and most notably the famous toll road between Freetown and Masiaka are products of the AFC.
Discussions about the construction of Mamamah International Airport and the construction of a Freetown-Lungi Bridge were flaring up during the past government, but the projects died in the waters when former President Koroma rode into the sunset in 2018.
Although Kenema district failed to cooperate with the past government, it nevertheless got some facelift.
The government of former President Koroma takes credit for a project on the construction of a network of 5Km roads within Kenema City in 2011.
A total of five streets: Combema Road, Humonya Avenue, Kingsway Street, Kaisamaba Terrace and Sumaila Street were constructed by the past government.
The current Government inherited the Blama and Hangha Roads construction work from the past government with First Trycon as the construction company.
At the time the new government took over, it was certain that First Trycon would be replaced to expedite the construction work.
The government came at a time expectations for social services are high and uncontrollable. It was a government that was seen as the only source of hope for Kenema.
Their hope was heightened when President Bio delivered his maiden address in parliament.
In his address, the President catalogued infrastructure as one of his priority areas in the project of state governance.
Signs of delivering on the President’s promise were clear when government announced that all projects on infrastructure should continue.
The announcement renewed the zeal and spirit of Contractors who were going to shut down operations.
The road projects renewed in major communities in Freetown and the provinces, but Kenema, the heartland of government was left out.
A terrible disappointment for a town that takes pride in the SLPP as the party of their forefathers is visible and will continue till 2023.
The government has always justified its weaknesses in service delivery on the basis of inheriting a debt-burdened economy despite the inclusion of infrastructure in the 2018 SLPP manifesto.
The said manifesto was comprehensively written and presented to the people of Sierra Leone as a template for the governance of the state.
In the entire manifesto there is no portion or page where the SLPP indicated an excuse for their failure to govern.
They made it straight and clear that Sierra Leone would be definitely revived when SLPP is allowed to rule.
But, the promises made for Kenema in 2018 is yet to materialise as the town wallows in misery and poverty.
Whether the SLPP would intervene in the Kenema situation and makes a difference is a wait-and see affair.