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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

Welcome to Sierra Leone, 2018
By Jacob Sax Conteh
Jun 7, 2013, 17:00
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It is December 20, 2018. I woke early to take a walk down to the beach and returned home to my house at False Cape Garden in Goderich. After breakfast, I hop in my Hybrid Toyota SUV to go to Waterloo for a quick meeting. Driving on the straight, paved Peninsula Highway, I get to Waterloo in 20 minutes. From Waterloo, I am going to Hill Staton to meet a friend. Instead of going back through the Peninsula road, I drive to Jui and drive to Regent and IMATT through the four-lane road that connects the two locations. After a brief stay at Hill Station, I have to go down to Ferry Junction for lunch with a colleague. I drive down a new fly-over bridge that replaced the windy Hill Cut Road and drive through Jomo Kenyatta Road to Pademba Road. Once I get to Pademba Road, I am taking the new four lanes Road that connects Pademba Road and Up Gun and I will be at Ferry Junction in good time.


The next two days, I have to attend meetings at Bo, Koidu, and Makeni. It is no hassle. I will go to Bo and sleep there. On my way to Bo, I will visit Moyamba.

 


Apart from solar lights and paved streets, Moyamba now has its own university! And the road from Moyamba junction to Moyamba is a shinny granite road lined with mini-malls. I will attend an 8 am meeting at the CKC Secondary School in Bo. At 10, I leave Bo and drive to my hometown Yele in a new wide paved road.


The 38-mile journey which used to take four to five hours through crumbling bridges and a treacherous road only took me 30 minutes!. Since my meeting at Kono will be at 3 pm, I will visit my family at Yele, surf the web and make some calls to the US through Skype. I will leave Yele at 12, drive to Matotoka and join the newly constructed Matotoka-Koidu Highway. I will stop by at the mall at Cole Town and pick up some groceries before continuining to Koidu where I will arrive around 2:30. I will attend the meeting and sleep at the Hylton Hotel downtown with its high speed internet and flat screen TVs. In the morning I will leave to Makeni for my 2 pm meeting. I will stop by at Magburaka to visit the new University of Science and Technology at the outskirts of the city before proceeding to Makeni.


Welcome to the new Sierra Leone. After years of crumbling infrastructure, political conflicts and senseless coups and wars, democracy has finally paid off in a big way. Thanks to the leadership of now retired President Ernest Bai Koroma, new schools with new teachers who do not take money or sleep with students for homework, exams, pamphlets, sports, thanksgiving and other vices that ruined education in the past punctuate the entire country. Thanks to very strict policies and enforcement of anti-child prostitution laws, teenage girls that used to hang around at night at the beaches at Lumley and Aberdeen have been swept away from the streets.

Young boys and girls who sold kola nuts and other condiments at Guard Street and Abacha Street are gone. They are now in school. The streets are not clogged with people anymore as street selling has been eliminated thanks to brand new shopping centers both in the west and eastern part of the city.


Twenty-four hour electricity, running water and paved streets in residential areas in Freetown have replaced the old city with constant blackouts, acute water shortage, and dusty streets. And the politics has gotten much better. At a cafeteria outside parliament, politicians from different parties sit side by side crafting policies that will help develop the country.

Sierra Leonean musicians and DJs now work together to produce first-class music that eliminates total dependence on American, Ghanaian and Nigerian music. The Sierra Leone movie industry has been thoroughly revolutionized through collaboration between Sierra Leone actors, producers, writers and directors.

 

Next week, I have to return to the United States for a few weeks visit. I will leave my house at Goderich at 8 am, drive though the Peninsula Road to Waterloo and continue to Mile 38 where I will join a United Airlines flight to Washington, DC at the Sierra Leone International Airport. What a difference ten years of good governance has made!


Perhaps the greatest change one can notice is the attitude of the people. After years of pent-up anger and rudeness in the streets, the Sierra Leonean youth and adults have taken a cue from developed countries.

Everyone obeys the law. Drivers slow down when pedestrians are crossing the road, give way to other drivers, and drivers strictly obey traffic lights which are now a staple in all major cities in the country. For the first time in our countrys history, religion, be it Islam or Christianity is having a profound effect on people as they now live by the tenet to treat people the way you want to be treated. This is the new Sierra Leone, and I hope it is not a dream.


© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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