By Mohamed LaminBanya
Residents of Fort Street community, west of Freetown are demanding that their community be provided with safe drinking water.
The community has only one functional street tap for thousands of residents and many more from its environs. Despite the fact that the tap is not regularly functional, the water authority Guma Valley Water Company (GVWC) sends huge water bills to the community people who consider this a disservice because they are expected to pay for a service they do not enjoy.
Provision of adequate safe drinking water in most parts of the country by successive governments has been challenging and Fort Street is among several communities in the Western Area that lack access to safe drinking water.
Speaking to AYV, some of the residents noted that, they have been facing this challenge during and after the two lockdowns instituted by the government and that till date the GVWC is unable to rectify this problem despite the fact that they honor the company’s water bills.
They went on to say that some compounds in their community only have access to water because they are on a special line whilst the low income earners solely depend on the public tap.
“We are seriously challenged over the issue of access to safe drinking water – a commodity we need badly. If for example you enter into someone’s compound to fetch water they ask you out for fear of contracting COVID-19,” a resident told AYV.
Fort Street is a community dominated by brick buildings with perimeter fences. It is common to see the community tap overwhelmed with women and children competing to fetch water for domestic purposes. The community is bordered by Wesley Street leading to Pademba Road and Soldier Street where most children come to fetch water.
Tua Sheriff an elderly woman, who normally goes to the tap to fetch water said that for two months now the community has been facing the challenge of getting safe drinking water, noting that, they have tried calling Guma Valley to remedy the situation but that till date the company has not come to the community.
“During the first and second lockdowns, we were unable to have access to water, and our children are suffering whilst going in search of water for domestic purposes,” she said.
She added that, they are unable to comply with the social distancing instituted by the government because the only option they have to fetch water is to go to the tap which is daily crowded by people fetching water.
She called on the relevant authorities to adhere to their cry by providing water for them, citing that, most of their children fall ill fetching water.
She went on to say that they have resorted to begging their neighbors who have special water supply lines to come to their aid because their numerous pleas to GVWC are yet to be heard.
In March 2020 the country recorded its index COVID-19 case and part of the government’s preventive measures to curtail the pandemic is to practice social distancing but yet still people at Fort Street can’t avoid crowded places in their quest to fetch water which is a necessary commodity.
All efforts to get the side of Guma Valley Water Company were futile, but we shall keep on trying.