By Jariatu S. Bangura….
As Sierra Leone celebrated her 55th independence anniversary Wednesday, 27 April, a cross-section of citizens in Freetown the capital have expressed mixed feelings over successes and challenges achieved during the decade and half.
Respondents who spoke to our reporter noted that the country has been over reliant on mining, especially diamonds, for its economic sustenance since independence, although the country is also among the largest producers of titanium and bauxite, a major producer of gold, and has a substantial deposit of Rutile.
Lansana Mahmoud said with a tinge of sadness that although Sierra Leone is home to the third-largest natural harbour in the world, and has vast deposits of minerals, 70% of its people live in abject poverty.
He explained that Sierra Leone became independent in 1961 and that corruption and mismanagement of the country’s natural resources contributed to the civil war between 1991 to 2002, which devastated the country, killed thousands and left many amputated.
“More recently, the 2014 Ebola outbreak overburdened the weak healthcare infrastructure, leading to more deaths from medical neglect than Ebola itself. It created a humanitarian crisis situation and a negative spiral of weaker economic growth. The country has an extremely low life expectancy at 57.8 years,” he said.
He urged that more efforts must be put into raising better awareness and improving livelihoods of the citizenry.
Ramatu Kamara said inspite of the Ebola outbreak in 2014 to 2015, much still has to be done in the health sector as the free healthcare is currently shambolic.
She said a country celebrating its 55th anniversary should boost of good healthcare for lactating mothers, under 5 children and pregnant women, not least because of a recent measles outbreak.
Abdulai Mansaray, said there was nothing to celebrate as the country still grapples with electricity and water supply to homes in even the municipality.
“We have seen how young girls become pregnant all in the name of fetching water from one community to the other. Boys used such opportunity to impregnate these girls and at the end they become drop-out pupils at an early age. The government should look into these issues keenly,” he said.
Issa Thomas lamented the state of electricity supply even though every household has their own metre. He said some workers were yet to start receiving their minimum wage salary as stated by law, adding that some qualified teachers are also still not included in the payroll voucher.
He said the way and manner in which some commercial bike riders behave is not a good example for the country, as he called for their relocation to minor streets in the city.
According to Hassan Kallon, there is a lot to celebrate as there are good roads in the municipality. He however urged the Freetown City Council and other cleaning agencies to clean the streets of garbage.
“We don’t want to face another calamity among citizens as city council, Masada and others should make sure they clear all the abandoned garbage in the streets and even the containers were garbage are thrown are filled,” he observed.
Mariama Kargbo said the country should celebrate because more women are now involved in politics, even though the 30 percent quota for female representation is yet to be enacted into law, while women and girls should be included in the development process.
She encouraged the government to employ more women as many women and girls have graduated from universities and colle