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Public Buildings: Dwellings of beggars

Public Buildings: Dwellings of beggars

Public buildings in the capital of Freetown have turned into dwelling houses of beggars.

The Freetown Central Mosque, Bank of Sierra Leone and prominent shops around the PZ area have all become dwelling residences of number of street beggars and family members.

A blind beggar, Pa Santigie Koroma, wife Mammy Yabum Koroma and three children all former residents of Waterloo town, 36 kilometers off Freetown, have for the past few months occupied the frontage of Central Mosque at Wallace Johnson Street Freetown.

In an interview, Pa Koroma told Sierra Express Media’s ace reporter, Mary Kamara that he is desperately bothered by the increase in the cost of transport fare – in a rough calculation he spends Le 5,000 to and from Waterloo everyday.

“Excluding special charges, I pay for the wheel chair of my wife,” he said, “which to an extent has been eating all that earned out of begging.”

Despite the heavy transport fare levied on Pa Santigie and family, he said it is difficult for them to get vehicles from Waterloo direct to Freetown.

“Vehicle conductors deny us because we carry our children and luggage with us. And that at all times we choose to put our kids on our lap because it will put us under some financial punishment if we dare allow them occupy individual seats,” he said.

He added, however, that he cannot afford to stay home and sleep hungry, but rather decided to stay at the frontage of the Central Mosque in Freetown – a stone’s throw to areas he and his family beg for their living.

“In fact, Central Mosques is my spot and people who give me money know that is where I no live.”

“I have to provide a living for me and my family, so begging is the only means through which I can achieve ever since I lost my sight two years ago’’.

Beggars have had field days occupying prominent buildings in the central business district of Freetown; some at the back and frontage of the Sierra Leone law court building, Bank of Sierra Leone, Christian Smith building and other public places and offices.

According to the beggars, they emphasized they are being marginalized by especially community members at their previously dwelling homes.

By Mary I. Kamara

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