Freetown, Baby!


Keep Freetown Clean by jc2010sl
June 2, 2010, 5:31 pm
Filed under: public life

As I was driving home from work today a policeman directed me to pull over at the side of the road. We duly slowed down and he thrust a plastic bag toward me.

Now being stopped is pretty standard. At night the Police will search your car in a pretty perfunctory manner and make a half-hearted attempt to “fine” you for some breach of road safety, real or imagined. Typical offences include driving with the wrong kinds of shoes, not having the right driving licence and the like. Frankly, given the standard of driving in Salone, I’m not sure they even have local licences, much less tests.

But the plastic bag was a novelty. Even more peculiar, it came emblazoned with the logo of Freetown City Council, and bore the injunction “Keep Freetown Clean”. Now I could take issue with the choice of verb – “making” Freetown clean would be more realistic than “keeping” Freetown clean – but that would be quibbling. I was more struck by the notion that handing out plastic bags was the way to combat chronic littering.

I thanked the police officer, but declined his offer of the bag, much to his disappointment. As we drove away I turned to my driver and asked what the bags were all about. “Well, people just throw their junk out of the window as they drive”, he said “with the bags, they can put their rubbish inside and then put it in the bin (or ‘Dirty Box’ as it’s called in Krio).” I wasn’t convinced by the logic.

I suspect within a couple of weeks, among the empty plastic water packets, bottles and scraps of paper, there will be another common sight. Discarded bags will boldly enjoin Freetonians to keep their city clean. Who knows, maybe some of them will even take heed.

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