AFRICA/SIERRA LEONE -"Deforestation and illegal constructions at the origin of the Regent tragedy" says a missionary

Monday, 21 August 2017 natural catastrophe  

Freetwon (Agenzia Fides) - "As always one wonders if something could have been avoided and if human wisdom could have saved so many lives and so many things built with hard work", writes Fr. Gerardo Caglioni to Agenzia Fides, a missionary with a long experience in Sierra Leone, commenting on the tragedy that took place between 13 and 14 August, when "Mount sugar loaf" as it is called, collapsed on the village of Regent causing at least 500 deaths. "This village is at the origin of the Creoles community of Sierra Leone and was one of the first centers where some slave groups had settled. The first Christian school of these communities was established, the "Christian Institution", which soon after became a University, the "Fourah Bay College". Freetown was known as the "Athens of Africa" as an homage to the college, emphasizes Caglioni. Here are his considerations on what happened:
"For those who lived, like me, for years in that land, what comes to my mind is the comparison of what it was like 40 years ago and what I saw during my last trip last year. There are no more green spaces. Years ago, we saw smokes of woodworking logs for the preparation of charcoal to cook. Now houses have been built without any town planning, without roads and sewers.
Where are the schools, clinics? Where do the people collect water for various needs, especially in the dry season? There are many unanswered questions, no plans for growth and development, no plans for moments of emergency.
Another aspect regards garbage. The streets of the city of Freetown are full of garbage mountains with every kind of plastic. In the dry season, there is a terrible "smell" of the material that decomposes due to the heat. During the rainy season, often, one can see the whole city, located on the slopes of a large promontory full of various things that block drainage pipes and flood essential parts of the means of communication.
Finally, it must be said, rulers must assume their responsibilities in administering this territory with its one and a half million inhabitants and is about to burst like a bomb prepared to explode. It is necessary to plan and restrict entry to new residents in order to provide a minimum of decent security and decent living for those who already reside there. One should not weep for incorrect mistakes when they can and should be avoided", he concludes. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 21/8/2017)


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