Friday, August 9, 2013

King Jimmy Bridge Disaster

Collapsed King Jimmy Bridge
This morning the popular Jimmy Bridge collapsed in Freetown, the capital of  Sierra Leone, with some confirmed confirmed fatalities. As we learn of this terrible disaster, our hearts go out to the families of the deceased and their pain, coming so shortly after the Holy month of Ramadan.

The King Jimmy bridge is a colonial era relic between the famous King Jimmy Wharf market and the Connaught hospital, the main public hospital in Freetown. It is a popular route for pedestrians and vehicular traffic, as it the main route that people from the Connaught, Regent Municipal and Kroo Bay areas use to access the popular commercial areas of King Jimmy and Government Wharf.

There are at least two confirmed fatalities from this terrible accident and more fatalities are expected as the authorities continue to sift through the rubble. Freetown, surrounded by mountain ranges, experiences extraordinary amounts of rainfall and is prone to flooding due to the topography and poor drainage systems.
Freetown Sierra Leone

This tragedy indicates a need for the country's authorities to start inspecting the stability and safety of some of the colonial era infrastructure that dot the Freetown landscape. I am particularly worried by the haphazard construction around the hills and peninsular ranges surrounding Freetown. Given the massive amounts of rain that falls in Freetown,  which is bound to only worsen with the acceleration of climate change, the possibility of murderous landslides or the rolling of boulders from the hills on the unsuspecting residents of Freetown seem just too real.

It is time to study the stability of most of the bridges in Freetown. The city was not built to accommodate the sheer amount of people that moved in during the war and have refused to go back to the monotony of rural life after the country's conflict. The need for the acceleration of rural development in Sierra Leone has never been more urgent.

It is reported that the President of Sierra Leone Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma toured the scene of the accident and sympathized with those affected by the tragedy. We would continue to monitor reports from Freetown and update the readers of this blog.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The whole country is replete with bridges that are relics of the colonial time. The Bumpe - Tikonko bridge comes to mind. Some 1890 railway bridges are paved over for lorry travel. About a few months ago there was the collapse of the Mabang bridge. This is a wake up call that we have aging infrastructure that needs attention.