The first “National Cleaning day” took place recently in Sierra Leone under the newly elected President, Julius Maada Bio to facilitate and inculcate hygiene amongst the people as well as improve the work rate of civil servants.

The cleanup had been announced last month from the Office of the Presidency.

The cleaning process was a huge relief to residents of the largest slum Kroo Bay, in the country’s capital, who sifted through tons of household rubbish and plastic waste that had been clogging the drainage system.

According to one of the slum’s resident, Adama Kamara, he expressed his excitement towards the President’s decision to improve the environment “because our country is too dirty”.

So much household waste is dumped in gutters that they constantly become blocked causing flooding during the rains, he said.

“After the cleaning, the water can now easily flow through the drainage and empty into the sea, so I appreciate that and I’m happy for that,” he added.

Michael Aboidu Frazer, a fisherman in his fifties, said the cleanup would have a big effect on the slum dwellers.

The area is “among the disaster prone communities in Freetown with perennial flooding problem which often cause deaths and damage to properties during the rainy season,” he said.

Following the testimonies of the slum dwellers, it was obvious that the cleanup went down with them.

To this end, cleaning days in Sierra Leone has been fixed for the first Saturday of every month, from 7:00 am to 12:00 noon, the statement issued by the Presidency said.

It was also included in the statement that all civil servants and government ministers are therefore expected to be at work from 8:30 am until 4:45 pm, of which the President and the Vice President would carry out snap checks.

“Failure to report for work on time will lead to disciplinary action and potential summary dismissal,” the statement said.

Health and Sanitation Minister Alpha Tijan Wurie said there was much work to be done.

“I love the enthusiasm of the people… they clearly want to get their environment very clean,”

“The process is going to continue (and) it will not stop at just once per month,” he said.