A fierce fire in Susan’s Bay, Freetown, which started at about 6pm on Wednesday, 24 March highlights the insecurity of residents in Sierra Leone’s informal settlements. No death was reported but the entire community was burnt to ashes.
Susan’s Bay is one of Freetown’s largest informal settlements with over 2000 residents. People live in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions along the coast, with little access to proper water supply and sanitation services.
The recent fire caused a massive destruction of livelihoods, houses and properties and left hundreds displaced.
The National Fire Force tried to put out the fire but the lack of access roads prevented fire engines from reaching the community in time to limit the damage, leaving it to burn for over seven hours.
The Mayor of Freetown Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr posted a statement saying “Once again, there was no access for the fire service. A six-storey building under construction . . . blocked what access there previously would have been.”
“Disaster risk reduction cannot happen without effective urban planning and a building permit regime which is focused on reducing environmental and man-made risks,” she added.
The National Fire force chief says it was extremely challenging to reach the disaster area. Nazir Kamanda Bongay says this is an opportunity to rebuild a better community there. Affected residents are still waiting for a word on what their fate will be.
Watch the report