Sierra Leone on Saturday held its first “national cleaning day” under new President Julius Maada Bio as part of a campaign to improve hygiene and the work rate of civil servants.
In the capital Freetown’s largest slum Kroo Bay hundreds of men and women sifted through tons of household rubbish and plastic waste that had been clogging the drainage system.
Trader Adama Kamara who lives in the slum said he was pleased that President Bio was trying to improve the environment “because our country is too dirty”.
So much household waste is dumped in gutters that they constantly become blocked causing flooding during the rains, he said.
“After the cleaning, the water can now easily flow through the drainage and empty into the sea, so I appreciate that and I’m happy for that,” he added.
Michael Aboidu Frazer, a fisherman in his fifties, said the cleanup would have a big effect on the slumdwellers.
The area is “among the disaster prone communities in Freetown with (a) perennial flooding problem which often cause deaths and damage to properties during the rainy season,” he said.
The cleanup was announced by President Bio’s office last month, two days after a rally in which the new leader, a former general who was briefly in power in the 1990s, said he would be a stickler for “discipline”.
Cleaning days will be held on the first Saturday of each month, from 07:00 to 12:00 noon, a statement issued by the presidency said.
Bio added that all civil servants and government ministers would be expected to be at work from 08:30 until 16:45, and that he and the vice president would carry out snap checks.