11th May 2019 marks one year since Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr was sworn into office as the Mayor of Freetown. Her campaign promise of transformation encompassed three focus areas – “for wi community, for wi progress, for wi Fritong”. Through a comprehensive consultation exercise with experience, knowledge and expertise drawn in from all quarters, these commitments have been translated, into the Transform Freetown Agenda – a strategy which prioritizes delivering essential but neglected services, as well as building an innovative, affordable, inclusive city for the future.
Already notable progress has been made with efforts to mitigate against flooding in areas annually affected, to improve waste collection in the city, raise revenue from residents and businesses to invest in the city’s development and to enhance coordination with central government, neighbouring district councils and wards. Progress has been the result of a collaborative effort.
“I spent my first year in office laying the groundwork for remarkable projects that have the potential to transform various aspects of the lives of residents of Freetown. I am grateful to my residents and partners across public, private and social sectors for receiving my vision with open minds, and for developing the Transform Freetown Plan with me. It is amazing how much we have accomplished in such a short period of time. My first anniversary is a testament of how far we can go if only we all play our part. More importantly, my first anniversary gives all of us the opportunity to make a commitment to continue playing our part in the transformation of our city.” – Mayor Aki-Sawyerr.
Despite significant progress in the past year there remains work to be done if the vision for Freetown set
out in the Transform Freetown agenda is to be realised. FCC has just passed a new bye-law which will
see the registration by the Council of all solid and liquid waste collection providers, to enable FCC to track where service provision is lacking and to enforce good practice and good customer service standards. The Kingtom area of the city is set for notable works in the coming months. FCC expects to obtain funding for the construction of a fecal sludge treatment centre at Kingtom,using a cost-effective technology which aims to stop the open dumping of sewage and the consequent poisoning of the watercourses. Plans are also underway to turn the dumpsite into an engineered landfill based on an existing feasibility study. The design will be completed in 2019, with construction to start in 2020. Furthermore more efficient collection of waste from households and businesses, through Transfer Stations, will be rolled out in June and July 2019. Progress is being made with arrangements to safely close the Kissy Granville Brook dumpsite and to convert the waste to energy.
Mayor remains committed to listening to, and learning from, experts and key stakeholders holding local, national and international expertise. Community consultations around the implementation of Transform Freetown will continue to be a critical component of its implementation and are linked with efforts to become a more active and responsive institution on social media. As part of its ongoing commitment to better meeting the needs of Freetown’s residents, an automated complaints system is being developed, which will be launched within the next three months. This will allow more accurate reporting and recording of complaints. It will act as an early warning system, so that the council can identify problem areas and service failures and in order to prevent similar complaints – and ultimately similar mistakes – being made in the future.
The Mayor will also aim to continue to raise the city’s profile at international meetings and events as a member of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, Mayors Migration Council Leadership Board, Global Parliament of Mayors, and the International Growth Centres, Cities that Work Council. She has made statements at Global Plastics Forum at the United Nations General Assembly and the Concordia Summit in New York, the C40 Cities Women4Climate Conference and recently shared Freetown’s experience of tackling sanitation at the RBM/WHO World Malaria Day event in Paris.
Here’s a reminder of a few of the successes achieved in the last year through the collective efforts of the Mayor and Freetonians.
Freetown City Council values key strategic partnerships with donors, private sector actors, academics
We are also working to strengthen and build ties with our “twin” city Hull, UK and to explore the opportunity to twin with Charleston, USA. The Hull Society sent flood mitigation experts to work with the environmental sector working group and have supported the Cleanest Zone Competition. In June 2019 the Lord Mayor of Hull will visit Freetown for an official visit. The city was also delighted to host Michael Boulware Moore, chief executive of the International African American Museum (IAAM), and his team in February 2019. Freetown and Charleston share multiple links dating back to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Bunce Island was the site where Sierra Leonean captives’ feet touched African soil for the last time and Gadsden Wharf in Charleston was the site where over 90% of those captives arrived in America.
The Freetown City Council, together with other major stakeholders in tourism, will collaborate with the
Charleston City Council and IAAM to highlight the historical and cultural ties between the two cities;
creating a bridge for those whose ancestors left Bunce Island hundreds of years ago, to return home. This initiative supports the Mayor’s efforts to drive job creation in Freetown through tourism.
OUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
The City has moved with purpose in the last year but there is still always more work to be done. Here are
a few of the things to look out for in the next few months:
● 10,000 trees to be planted in high catchment areas to prevent soil erosion with the support of the
● 1,300m of drainage to be constructed in nine communities with support from World Bank.
● A technical and economic feasibility study to identify the location for a new sanitary landfill will be undertaken with the support of DFID. As will engineering designs for improvement work at
Kingtom to extend the life of dumpsite and make it safer.
● Continued support for waste collection businesses, plus the investment in 60 tricycles &
associated equipment, and business training for waste collection service providers.
● Establishment of an SMS-based system for customers to obtain information as to waste
collectors in their area.
● A comprehensive review and reform of FCC’s dumpsite management. Planned reforms include
increased staffing at the dumpsite, procurement of gates to be installed at Cemetery Lane
entrance at Kingtom & at the entrances to Kissy, and tracking of all users of the dumpsites to
enable Freetown City Council to ensure that all users pay the relevant tipping fees.
● A comprehensive review and reform of FCC’s system of enforcement to ensure the best and
most effective use of current resources. Reforms already implemented include hi-vis jackets for
FCC Sanitary Inspectors, changing their days of work from Mon-Fri to Tue-Sat for greater
effectiveness as residents are at home on Saturday, and revision of the allocation system for
Inspectors to ensure greater efficiency. Further reforms include the provision of additional
vehicles to support the work of Sanitary Inspectors and ensuring that the Metropolitan police are
targeting sites where there is frequent illegal dumping.
Special thanks are due to Freetown’s councillors and FCC staff, members of the Mayor’s Delivery Unit,
the central government, the All People’s Congress Party, ward committees, representatives from MDAs,
development partners and NGOs, members of the public, community leaders, and CSOs as well as the
private sector who have supported the Mayor in her efforts to Transform Freetown.