Freetown, 23rd February 2022 — The National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) in collaboration with the Office of National Security, the Republic of Sierra Leone Arm Forces, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Sierra Leone Police undertook a joint assessment on the Guma Valley Dam to determine how encroachment from various fronts, deforestation close to the dam has the propensity to cause serious water shortage in Freetown.
It could be recalled that on the 7th December 2021, the NDMA through its Directorate of Risk Reduction and Preparedness, visited the dam and drew the attention of relevant authorities to its findings which precipitated this high-level visit.
During the visit, the team saw first-hand, how illegal human activities such as people constructing houses just meters away from the dam, how the hewing down of trees is rapidly drowning the dam and the use of fertilizer to grow crops close to the dam has the proclivity to contaminate the water that would be supplied to residents.
The team also found out that the current water level of the dam is drastically low. According to a dam attendant, Ishmeal Kallon, said the water level of the dam is currently at layer four (4), three steps downwards when it is full.
He also intimated the team that if nothing is done to preserve the forest, the water level might reduce to layer three (3) which will see the supply of water with mud and stones to homes and businesses.
The National Security Coordinator, ONS, Abdulia Avayama Caulker, while addressing the team, said the sporadic encroachment into the protected areas of the dam needs urgent attention to save it from a total collapse. He also noted that what he saw was frightening and people must be stopped.
“This is the only infrastructure in the Western Area that supplies water to millions of homes in Freetown and its environs, we must not sit and allow people destroy it and do nothing. We must act to protect and preserve the dam” he said.
Mr Caulker went on to state that his office, the Office of National Security, will summon an emergency meeting with the Guma Valley Dam Management, the NDMA and other relevant security sector players to decide on concrete steps to stop the continuous illegal constructions and provide permanent security to protect the dam.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mrs Elizabeth Turay, expressed dissatisfaction with the way people are fast approaching the dam, especially from the no. 2 river axis. She said a holistic assessment to determine the green belt and seal it off from potential encroachers is of great paramount.
The Chief of Defense Staff of the Republic of Sierra Leone Arm Forces, Brigadier General Sulay Sesay, on behalf of the military, vouched to support the implementation of any resolution to protect the Dam.
“We’ll support any decision to protect this dam. These people should be stopped at all costs to safeguard this critical infrastructure. Our lives depend on it, everything we do hovers around water so it’s incumbent on us to guard it jealously”. He noted.
The Head of the Joint Force Command, the Republic of Sierra Leone Arm Forces, Brigadier General Peter Lavahun, Assistant Inspector General of Police, Amadu Kanneh, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Mohamed Sheik Kargbo, were all part of the visiting team and expressed huge commitment to protect, preserve and stop people from further encroaching the precincts of the dam.
The National Disaster Management Agency will put together a video documentary and a comprehensive report detailing the threats posed to the dam by illegal activities for the attention of the relevant authorities for action.
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Directorate of Communications
National Disaster Management Agency