By Lansana Fofanah.
Yesterday marked exactly one year since the deadly mudslide struck on the 14th of August 2017 causing thousands of lives to be lost and hundreds buried under the rubbles.
The scene at Mount Sugar Loaf at Regent, where the incident took place was filled with grief and irresistible testimonies from relatives who lost their loved ones.
Addressing the gathering, President Julius Maada Bio said that the world has turned to Sierra Leone as we mourned those that lost their lives.
President Bio said that he had to cut short his overseas campaign tour just to return home and sympathized with the victims of the mudslide. He lamented the grief and trauma that hit the country on that day as thousands were made homeless and orphaned.
President Bio describing his government as God-fearing and said upon hearing the Red Alert warning from the UN, he made a swift move for the payment of eight Billion Leones to people living in prone disaster areas for their relocation.
He called on Sierra Leoneans not to apportion blame for this disaster as no one has control over natural disaster but to work collectively to avoid such a disaster in future.
“Sugar Loaf Mountain is now an environmentally protected area and anyone who builds there will face the law and his or her structure will be demolished”, the President said.
President Bio said that henceforth, charcoal burning and stone mining at Sugar Loaf are banned and anyone who is found wanting will have to face the law.
Both Christian and Muslim clergies cited verses in the Holy Quran and the Bible where God mentioned mudslide as part of His punishment or warning to test the fate of mankind.
Thousands of Sierra Leoneans gathered for an interfaith service at the Saint Paul’s Catholic Church in Regent together with His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio to commemorate the twin disasters of August 14, 2017.
President of the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone, Bishop John Yambasu said that hundreds of Sierra Leoneans went to bed on the night of the 13th of August 2017, but never woke up as they and their dreams were buried under the rubble.”No one can tell how many people died in that needless mudslide. Like the rebel war, the scares of the mudslide will forever remain with every Sierra Leonean”, he said.
He called on the President to put on a robust mechanism to ensure that such disaster never takes place again.
Sheik A. B. Conteh said that God has many ways to test the fate of mankind and mudslide is not an exception.
He said Sierra Leoneans should not just commemorate this day, but to see the need to preach love and unity.