Five Years On….How Are We Doing In Sierra Leone?

I’ve been all excited today since it’s been exactly “5ive” years today since we landed in Sierra Leone for good!. I remember how sultry the weather felt compared to the cold we had just left in England. There was dust everywhere and excitement in the air for us! We had 14 pieces of luggage with us – 8 suitcases and 5 pieces of hand luggage – All of that were placed in the helicopter which took approximately 7 minutes to bring us to Freetown from Lungi Airport. It was around 12 midnight and the car wound its way through the then busy and bumpy roads of Lumley, Regent Road then into a new life in Sierra Leone.

Now if I recall my first impression well, it was soooo…… dark – no light at that time – and our generator was on 24/7. I remember waking up the next morning and thinking “oh…my it’s so hot the heater has been on all night” hahaha… I had forgotten that we were now in the tropics no more radiators or heaters to worry about. We had our own free heating system – the sun.  Thank God! I always dreaded the dreary winters.

Five years on and I can whole-heartedly say it’s been great, I am glad and thankful to God that we came back! I can’t explain every detail here. We face different challenges in Sierra Leone but slowly and gradually, we have tackled and continue to tackle each of them head-on and overcome them. Each one overcome means a better life and more importantly a better attitude to life. Most of all, I am glad for the help I get in the home. I  don’t have to run around like headless chicken trying to be Superwoman. Yes Life is Good! No Life is Better!

Here are some of the Positive things that have happened since we came:

1. Electricity has improved – it can be better, in fact it used to better in 2009/2010. Now it’s worse than then but not as bad as 2008 when we came. Bumbuna as far as I know has not done much. I’m sure we are not being told exactly what the issue is…

2. Bad roads like Wilkinson Road has been re-done – these days renting a small shop on Wilkinson Road will set you back at least $10,000 – yep you heard me right! I love driving on Wilkinson Road now – gone is the endless dust and big potholes that used to delay us everyday. In addition with the City Council being serious, cars parked improperly are being clamped so people are taking note and avoiding the wahala… of paying a fine and all the attending chaos that goes with it.

3. Lumley roundabout and environs have been tarred! Wow

4. Spur Road is being re-done all the way to Waterloo through Grafton and Regent

5. Goderich road – one of the worst roads ever – has been tarred up to the Regimmanuel Estates – more should be done but so far it took me 10 minutes to take the children to a party about 2 weeks ago. This journey would have taken at least 45minutes to an hour on the old road.

6. As am writing, finally Regent Road is being done! YES you can believe it. It’s inconvenient as they are working because we have to use absolutely atrocious shortcuts which have rocks jutting out of the road – not for the faint-hearted or for non off-road cars. They get stuck everyday causing more problems.

7. More roads have been done or are being done in the provinces too – I remember last year, we drove to Njala and Taiama without a hitch and very quickly too. The road is tarred all the way to Bo too. I don’t know of Kenema but I’m sure it’s good too.

8. Operation WID 2013 – has removed street traders from the road and those illegal garages. Lumley is such an open space now, it’s almost surreal.

9. Oil, Mining & general business atmosphere improving.  SLEIPA is helping with rebuilding the image of Sierra Leone. On the plane coming most people are foreigners. There must be something here for them to be coming in droves. This is not Paris or London with good roads and infrastructure but they are willing to overlook all that because I believe what they gain is more in comparison with the petty inconveniences like mosquitoes and malaria. Who cares for that when you can get gold?

I could go on… but that’s what I remember now.

10. and oh… our beach excursions! We almost take it for granted because it’s there everyday! Thank God!

Some of the negative issues we still deal with

1 Clean water is scarce. I mean you can find it wasting on the roads but to get it into your house is a problem. Guma is useless and people cut other peoples pipes with impunity. We had water directly from Guma when we came but thanks to some lawless ones, our pipe has been cut over and over again. And the road works haven’t helped We now have to rely on bowsers to get us water. We are still looking into who we can improve the situation.

2. Corruption is still endemic and possibly getting worse. Any unprincipled business person is likely to fall prey to so called inflated invoices or a host of other things that can force you to be corrupt. At least some government bodies are now openly displaying their fees. This helps but in order to sabotage the process, workers still drag their feet to do work they are paid for so much so that people pay them to “hurry up.”  This happens across many institutions both private and public. I could go on forever about corruption…it’s almost in every nook and cranny.

3. Slow development – papa gofment – please hurry!

4. The level of illiteracy is still astonishing! With all the development that’s coming, how will you partake if you can’t read and write? This should be first priority for government in my opinion.

Can’t think of more right now…

In conclusion I’m just glad we came. For Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora, it’s not too late. Come and enjoy the wealth of your land or others will do it for you! It hink they already are… Ciao….




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