Sierra Leone’s capital city Freetown has recently erected its first post-war traffic lights.
Kayode Akintola, CAFOD’s country representative for Sierra Leone and Liberia, explained that the traffic lights are a symbol for the country’s recovery from both a brutal war, which lasted 14 years, and the Ebola epidemic.
“Most of us might only notice a traffic light when it makes us wait. But in Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone, the west African country’s first working traffic lights is a symbol of recovery and progress after years of war and a struggle with the deadly Ebola virus,” said Mr Akintola.
He explained that all of Sierra Leone’s traffic lights had been looted for scrap during the civil war, which began in 1991 and lasted more than a decade.
“Any hope of development was stuck at a red light,” said Mr Akintola. “The signal changed to amber with the end of the fighting, followed by elections, but the Ebola outbreak, in which more than 11,000 Sierra Leoneans died, was a tragic setback.”
However, since March 2016, Sierra Leone has been declared Ebola-free. UK aid agency CAFOD, with its partners Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and World Vision, launched a ‘safe and dignified burials’ programme raising awareness of the disease and preventing its spread.
“Its local volunteers from all walks of life are trained and ready to deal with any return of Ebola, but we can now focus our efforts on rebuilding lives and communities,” explained Mr Akintola.
“The country, has been given a green light. At last we can all look to the longer term.”
Picture: CAFOD’s Kayode Akintola next to one of Freetown’s first post-war traffic lights. (CAFOD).