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Informality, recognition and tax

Watch video lahai koroma yirah conteh fedurp freetown sierra leone tax informal eviction cockle bay dwarzack settlement city council services
We are paying our city rates, the taxes that you can pay to show your structure, or the area that you are living, is a government recognised area. They are coming to us and we are paying those taxes. And then also, the electricity bills, we are paying them day in, day out. And it is so interesting to know that we are paying more of these bills than even the proper settlers they are refering to, because every day we live here we will be worrying, oh, if we don’t pay these bills they are going to take us out any time. So every other day, that is our first assignment to adhere to some of these bills.
But at the same time, they are just ignoring us.
The water system, regardless that we are not having proper water or sanitation services, we are still paying for them. We are living in the slum communities. We call ourselves the… We are not at the military barracks, but we are at the civilian barracks. The civilian barracks means we have a lot of people - in one room you can find seven or 10 persons living in one room. Whilst you move to the formal aspects, one storey building is only for 3 or 4 people living there, you understand? So that’s particular one again. So if we are talking of tax, we are paying tax to the Freetown City Council.
My personal tax, we pay. Even those structures we have in our communities, we pay city rates for them. So those rates is being paid by we the slum dwellers, so we have impact that we are creating in the revenue collection of the state. So we have to be part and parcel of any planning they are doing.

You will now hear from Mr Lahai Koroma and Mr Yirah O. Conteh, residents of the Cockle Bay and Dwazarck settlements and part of the Federation of Urban and Rural Poor (FEDURP).

In this video, they talk about being required to pay their ‘city rates’, or tax, to the Freetown City Council, despite not being recognised by authorities because of the informality of their settlement. They also describe the pressure they feel as residents of informal settlements to pay these taxes on time because of eviction fears.

Residents of informal areas paying ‘city rates’ was also discussed in Step 2.5: Producing land in Freetown’s coastal settlements.

Cockle Bay and Dwazarck are part of the Freetown interactive map

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Development and Planning in African Cities: Exploring theories, policies and practices from Sierra Leone

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