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Makeni: A city in transformation in Sierra Leone

By Mohamed Konneh

It’s a dream coming to reality in Makeni after two years beginning 2009 to date. The Township of Makeni is rapidly taking a transformation stage and undergoing series of constructions works both in structure and in human resources. Makeni assumed a city status in 2006, together with Bo in the South, Kenema in the East and Koidu New Sembehun in Kono also in the East. All of the Regional Headquarters  assumed the status of a city during the reign of ex- President Tejan Kabbah just at the time he was about to make an exit. All four cities have today been transformed to a full city with the exception of Koidu New Sembehun that is crawling like a snail.

Makeni city clock tower under construction

 

The city of Bo, prior to its transformation was doing fine and continues to do fine after the elevation by the ex-President. With the assumption of office of President Ernest Bai Koroma in September 2007, and the revitalization of District Councils headed by Mayors or Chairpersons as the case may be, the newly born cities and districts are trying to develop and grow with Makeni City doing exceptionally well.

 

Road construction in progress

Makeni is one of the cities I used to visit most, working as a journalist; but for the past two years, I have not set eyes or feet on this city until November this year. The city is gradually growing with new roads and buildings coming up. It is very lively with lots of activities taking place on a daily basis.  Companies and NGO’s are doing their bits and undertaking activities that are all geared towards building a nation. Companies such as African Minerals, London Mining, Addax, Airtel Mobile Phone Company, Africell and Comium are all contributing to the communication industry and thus, making Makeni a beautiful place to live. The Northern Headquarter, referred to as Bombali is now one of the most attractive hubs in the north and if continues in this direction Makeni no doubt would one day become the envy of Sierra Leone, another Las Vegas or the city of happiness.

With this kind of rapid developments taking place in Makeni, social problems are bound to emerge. Night life in Makeni is not anything good to talk about; taking a broader perspective into what is taking place in communities where activities such as mining are concentrated. Mining activities contribute to social problems, such as prostitution, theft and the very odd issues that affect society. Children no longer listen to their parents and a community that is overshadowed by poverty the problem could be bigger than one imagines.

In all my years  of practice as a journalists, activities in mining communities especially in the African setting has seen lots  of problems than what the communities desire. Big Mining Companies normally bring in workers, including foreign expatriate into communities where the activities are dominant, accompanied by social problems that most time the Central Government find itself unable to address in the short term.

These are some of the issues Makeni could be seen plagued with and other cities where night life can be described as horrible or terrible. A nightmare for most parents that cannot afford taking care of their children the way they should be.   The Flamingo Night Club in Makeni could be compared to the Black and White Night Club in Bo city.

Girls young as thirteen, fourteen and even below the official age are seen very active at night around these social centres. Both locals and foreign nationals working or residing in Makeni know most of these joints and are seen very active at nights in areas where these teenage girls are available. In a poverty striking nation, affecting parents, these teenage girls accept whatever monetary offer is made to them by their predators for a one night stand.

This is beautiful Makeni today, the city that is fast transforming into a bigger and finest city with young girls turning themselves into “night men hunters”. The city is growing in size and energy which is the most paramount to drive development is also raising its head in that part and competition is now obvious among business houses. Most businesses are fighting to be strong and make their products more attractive. This is only way customers can be lured into their fold and do business with them.

Apart from the social problems, the city is making progress in the area of infrastructural development. The Makeni City Clock Tower will soon finish, and after completion it is believed by many that it will be the best clock tower in Sierra Leone. 

This tower under construction is worth Million of Leones and according to a Council Spokesman, it is the symbol of Makeni; a clear manifestation of hard work of the council. He thanked the Africell Mobile Phone Company for providing the necessary funds for such historical monument.

The city is also making progress in the area of tourist attraction with the establishment of the Wusum Hotel and MJ Motel, located on the Magburakah Highway provides the answer.   Makeni can also boast of a natural beauty, taking into cognizance the sight of the Mena Hill that overlooks the city, the carved stones that greet visitors entering the district from afar. 2011 has been a year of progress for Sierra Leone that is moving forward with terrific speed.  The country is in a hurry to develop in line with the pronouncement of President Koroma wherever he goes to testify and report his stewardship.

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