MRU To Host Extraordinary Summit To End Ebola

Sierra Leone’s President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma and his Guinean counterpart Professor Alpha Conde Tuesday 10 February expressed the urgent need for an Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of State of the Mano River Union in Conakry, Republic of Guinea to intensify the fight against Ebola and also assess the challenges facing the national and sub-regional dimensions of post-Ebola recovery programmes.

The two leaders took this position following the signing of a joint communique climaxing the one-day working and friendly visit of President Conde to Sierra Leone and Liberia. The Guinean leader is also the current Chair of the Mano River Union (MRU).

The purpose of the visit was essentially for the two leaders to engage in an exchange of ideas on the progress made and remaining challenges with respect to the unprecedented outbreak of Ebola in the MRU basin.

President Alpha Conde and his host also noted the need to continue their social mobilization campaigns against cultural and traditional practices that have significantly undermined painstaking efforts by both governments and their development partners in breaking the chain of transmission of Ebola.

Furthermore, the two Heads of State described the continued stigmatisation of their nationals and consequently, the imposition of travel restrictions and suspension of flight services to the affected countries as a distraction to collective efforts in fighting the epidemic. Both presidents agreed that travel and other restrictions imposed on the three worst-hit countries should be reviewed without further delay.

In all of this one sees a clear path and determination to fend off and finally eradicate this dreadful disease. It also shows that African leaders are also anxious to tackle their problems head-on, especially following the signing of three separate joint communiques between Mauritania/African Union and GOSL; Togo/ECOWAS and GOSL and between GOSL and Guinea/MRU. All of these communiques tend toward one direction; to defeat Ebola and address post-Ebola socio-economic recovery. It shows the determination to utilize the double-edged nature of the Ebola outbreak.

Of course, there is no gainsaying about the fact that Ebola is a double-edged sword considering its ugly and positive side effects. Negative, because of its toll on not just the lives of our people but, also its devastating impact on our socio-economic, cultural and traditional practices. It has essentially robbed us of our humanity, an old man with great insight told me in Makeni.

But then the outbreak will end up helping to strengthen our health care delivery systems, it will engender massive awareness in personal hygiene and sanitation and also help to revamp the educational system as clearly mentioned in the presidential broadcast to the nation quite recently.

As he aptly observed during the ensuing press conference at the Presidential Lounge at the Lungi International Airport, President Koroma said that “Until Ebola is defeated in the three worst-hit countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, any national success will be less meaningful and less sustainable,”

This is why I also fervently and unflinchingly welcome the need to convene an Extraordinary Summit of MRU member states to consolidate efforts in the fight against Ebola and also drum up support for swift post-Ebola socio-economic recovery.

Jaramenajara©2015

CHINA-SIERRA LEONE DEEPEN BILATERAL RELATIONS

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Sierra Leone in 1971, bilateral political relations have been increasingly deepened on the basis of respecting and taking care of each other’s core interests and major concerns.

Today, Saturday August 8, 2015, the Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China Wang Yi paid a courtesy call on His Excellency, President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma at State House in Freetown. The visit is part of a tri-nation tour of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone to assess the Ebola situation in the three worst-hit countries and hold discussions on ensuring a total eradication of the disease and what role China could play in the post-Ebola recovery of the affected countries.

President Koroma and the Foreign Minister exchanged views on post Ebola recovery as well as Africa’s common position on the reform of the UN Security Council, the Boko Haram menace in Nigeria and the Malian conflict, which are posing serious challenges to peace, security and development in West Africa.

The Foreign Minister expressed China’s continued support to Sierra Leone and commended President Koroma for his effective leadership of the national response against Ebola.

He said the visit is to discuss with the government of Sierra Leone on the specific needs of the country in terms of development and also the need to create the necessary independent development to move the country forward.

Mr. Yi’s visit seeks to focus on five main areas – to strengthen Sierra Leone’s medical and public health infrastructure, establish a West African Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which will be based in Sierra Leone, and send more medical personnel; mining and industrial cooperation to focus on processing of mineral products for value addition; Fishing and agriculture to encourage Chinese fishing companies to invest in Sierra Leone; continue to do more in infrastructural development, for instance, the Mamamah Airport; and promote human resource development by speedily kickstarting the construction of the Youth Village.

China has provided substantial support and assistance to Sierra Leone in the form of tangible infrastructural development, including bridges, government buildings, stadiums and roads.

Currently, China-aided infrastructure projects such as Charlotte, Bankasoka and Makali hydropower stations are legion, and the completed state of the art Regent to Kossoh road project, the Bo stadium and even the Siaka Steven stadium are all examples of over 40 years of fruitful and bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

The Youth Village and proposed new airport are landmark projects the Chinese government is helping Sierra Leone to pull off within the shortest possible time.

LET’S ALL BE MONITORS OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE POST EBOLA RECOVERY PLAN

President Ernest Bai Koroma has called on the people of Tonkolili, Kambia and Port Loko districts to be monitors of the implementation of post Ebola recovery programmes launched by government with support from development partners to drive social and economic recovery over the next 6 – 9 months, putting Sierra Leone back on the Agenda for Prosperity pathway and move the country towards a resilient zero.

The president made this call over the weekend during his working visits to those districts to reiterate the message of vigilance to attain and maintain a resilient zero for 42 days after the last Ebola patient would have been discharged from treatment center. During the trip, the president also officially released the largest quarantined of homes, including a whole village – Massesebe in Tonkolili district.

According to President Koroma, government’s post Ebola recovery plan will target four major priority areas – health; education; social protection; and revamping the economy and livelihoods by facilitating private sector recovery and growth.

He informed the people that it was imperative that everyone monitors the implementation of post Ebola recovery programmes to ensure mutual accountability and transparency. This, he said, will help ensure service delivery is effective and maximizes the chances of beneficiaries receiving government’s support to restore livelihoods and enhance private sector recovery.

This latest call by the Head of State reechoes his keynote address during the formal launch of the Post Ebola Recovery “Battle” Plan at Miatta Conference Center, Brookfields on 24th July, 2015. He warned that “seeds must get to farmers; medicines to the sick, educational materials to the pupils.” He went on to note that the post Ebola recovery plan is to ensure that frontlines of the battle get far more of the resources than the backlines. “That must be the guiding principle, for that is what will get this country resilient and our people well-served,” he pointed out.

In view of this, the president disclosed that his next working visits will focus on conducted tours of services and support transferred to targeted beneficiaries to ensure efficiency and real time accountability in the implementation of the recovery plan.

“I call on everyone to get involved to help monitor the implementation of the recovery programme,” President Koroma who has been dubbed the chief social mobilizer, urged.

From the analysis by President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma (informed by the respective briefings of the different Ebola point men in the three districts), it’s quite clear that if the two remaining patients in treatment centers countrywide are discharged without any new positive case, Sierra Leone will soon begin the countdown towards a resilient zero for the next 42 days as stipulated by WHO. The call now is for all Sierra Leoneans to not just support, but also act as monitors of the recovery programmes in order to accelerate government’s quest for prosperity for all citizens.

The president was accompanied on this trip by the British High Commissioner Peter West, DFID Country Representative Marshall Elliot, the Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr Abu Bakarr Fofanah, the CEO of NERC Major (Rtd) Paolo Conteh, the UNMEER Crisis Manager Bintou Keita, the Special Adviser to the President and Ambassador at Large Professor Monty Jones, other senior government officials and State House staffers.

Discharge of last Ebola Patient: the countdown begins in earnest

As implementation of Post Ebola recovery programmes gathers momentum, government is set to begin the countdown towards a resilient zero on Tuesday 25th August.

Mateneh Ebola treatment center is located on the outskirts of Makeni city. It was constructed by the British Army with funding from Department for International Development (DFID) during the height of the epidemic in 2014 and is being run by the International Medical Corps (IMC). Since then the center has admitted a total of 108 patients with 45 survivors.

The last Ebola test result for female patient Adama Sankoh came out negative and she was officially discharged by His Excellency, President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma today (Monday 24 August), marking the beginning of the countdown towards a resilient 42 days without a positive case.

Steven Gaojia of the National Ebola Response Center (NERC) described the discharge of the last EVD patient as a significant milestone in the fight against Ebola as well as the countdown towards a resilient zero.

Delivering the keynote address, President Koroma described the discharge of Adama Sankoh as the last remaining patient nationwide as the beginning of the end of Ebola in Sierra Leone. He said that the outbreak was announced 456 days ago. “Before we get to 42 days, we must stay the course and remain vigilant,” he urged.

The president called on the people of Sierra Leone to continue to call 117 when someone is sick. “It’s a moment we should celebrate and we have to give thanks to Almighty God that we have reached this point,” adding that we should remember the over 3, 500 citizens who had succumbed to the disease in our prayers.

President Koroma also lauded the efforts and support of development partners, health workers, including doctors in the fight to end the outbreak. He also commended NERC and the various DERCs across the country as well as the police, RSLAF, political parties, religious bodies, traditional leaders and all Sierra Leoneans who in diverse ways contributed to the fight against EVD.

Giving the vote of thanks, Adama Sankoh prayed for President Koroma for long life and good health for his personal leadership of the fight against the receding virus. She also thanked the Mateneh treatment center for their tireless efforts to ensure she survives EVD, adding that she will be the number one messenger to sensitize her people that although Ebola is on the run, vigilance should be the watchword.

Adama called on all citizens to continue to observe health measures of hand washing, safe burial among others. She pleaded with government not to forget Ebola survivors as most of them are now very vulnerable in terms of economic wellbeing.

The discharge and certification ceremony was attended by cabinet ministers, senior government officials, development partners, journalists and stakeholders of Bombali and Tonkolili districts.

By Jarrah Kawusu-Konte

International community extols president’s social mobilization drive against Ebola

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared this morning Sierra Leone as Ebola free at a colourful and well attended ceremony at the Bintumani International Conference Centre at Aberdeen in Freetown.

The ceremony was attended by cabinet ministers, members of parliament, senior government officials, traditional leaders, members and Dean of the diplomatic and consular corps, the media as well as ordinary Sierra Leoneans, including survivors of the evil virus called Ebola.

However, this event could not have come without a price in terms of collateral damage as thousands of Sierra Leoneans, over 200 health workers and 11 doctors lost their lives to the disease.

Furthermore, President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma’s nationwide social mobilization drive for community involvement and ownership of the fight against Ebola made considerable progress to break the chain of transmission of the disease.

The significance of his nationwide social mobilization tours stem from the fact that paramount chiefs, religious leaders, MPs, traditional and cultural society heads, Councilors and other stakeholders accepted and believed his message that they shoulder the responsibility of driving the Ebola virus out of their communities. It was this social mobilization by the president that turned out to be the game changer in the fight to eradicate Ebola from Sierra Leone, and consequently the WHO declaring the country as Ebola free today Saturday 7 November, 2015.

A number of diplomats have commended the efforts of President Koroma in his social mobilization drive for community involvement and ownership of the fight against Ebola culminating to the end of the outbreak today.

Please read below the testimonies of some of our development partners as well as the CEO of the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC):

State House Communication Unit:

QUESTION – Ahead of Sierra Leone being declared Ebola free by the World Health Organization (WHO), what is your assessment of President Koroma’s social mobilization drive in the fight against Ebola?


British High Commissioner Peter West – ANSWER:
I am full of admiration for President Koroma’s leadership and I think an outstanding aspect of that leadership has been his work on social mobilization. From the onset, I knew that President Koroma believes that without the cooperation and understanding of the people of Sierra Leone we will not be able to overcome the disease. Over many months I have travelled with him to every district in this country. In some cases, more than half a dozens times to problematic districts. I have seen him explained, persuade, cajoled and insist on people doing the right things to end the transmission chains. In his recent tours, I have seen his emphasis on building from the lessons we have learnt during Ebola so that Sierra Leone emerges stronger and more resilient with structures which are able to provide the services which the people of Sierra Leone deserve.

As we get to zero plus forty-two, I am proud that the UK along with other international partners has been able to play a full part in this fight against Ebola. But most of all, I want to congratulate President Koroma on a job very well done.

QUESTION 2: Moving forward, you have been very supportive of government’s action in stemming the virus, what areas do you think government should strengthen to equip the response for future outbreaks?

Peter West – ANSWER: I think it’s very important people learnt lessons from this episode. There is more capacity and more qualified people now to deal with this sort of crisis in the future. I think it is important also we embrace those people and those institutions so that there is a stronger structure to deal with this crisis in the future. And I think now in the next few years we are working very closely with President Koroma and his government on a recovery package on six specific areas which the government has set out and to make sure that the country develops and returns to the ambitions set out in the Agenda for Prosperity.

Discussion with WHO Representative – Dr Andres Nordstrom

State House Communication Unit –

QUESTION: Ahead of Sierra Leone being declared Ebola free by the World Health Organization, what is your assessment of President Koroma’s social mobilization drive in the fight against Ebola?

Dr Andres Nordstrom – ANSWER: I think the socio mobilization part of the response possibly has been most important and critical element because not until we really began to reach out to people to engage them, to communicate with the people that we can see the difference. Because we need the people to fully engage and fully also to trust and to also change some of the behaviours. So I think the social mobilization the president has been providing leadership for has been extremely important for this outbreak. I think there is a good platform; there is a lot of good experience and resources reaching out to people in communities that we need to build on to tackle other health problems in the future.

State House Communication Unit

– QUESTION: Dr Nordstrom, how would you describe the leadership of President Koroma?

Dr Andres Nordstrom – ANSWER:
He is really a leader that is providing both inspiration and leadership but also is a person that stays very calm and somebody also you both feel trust with and somebody who you can like as well.

Interview with CEO of NERC Major (Rtd) Paolo Conteh

State House Communication Unit –

QUESTION: Ahead of Sierra Leone being declared Ebola free by the WHO, what is your assessment of President Koroma’s social mobilization drive in the fight against Ebola?

CEO NERC – ANSWER: I think the president’s own contribution particularly in the area of social mobilization was key to the fight. I say so for two reasons because in terms of social mobilization it is not only about the message, it is about who carries the message – the messenger – and in President Koroma you have a good messenger because when he speaks people listen. People are drawn to him. So his contribution in my view was immense and I think it helped. He took the message to every district and I was with him.

He went around the country; spoke to paramount chiefs, religious leaders, tribal heads and so on. So I will say his contribution was immense in particularly social mobilization, getting the message to people to listen and do the right things.

SHCU©2015

This government has never reneged on its election promises

It is also expected that programmes and activities coded in political party manifestos help to build optimism of serving mankind and making life meaningful for voters.

It’s on this premise that the people of this country voted for the APC twice in 2007 and 2012 respectively.But a ponytail group of detractors are hellbent on misinforming the public about the true state of affairs on the ground.

Electricity generation and distribution in Sierra Leone prior to 2007 could be described as perennial and ailing; a view shared by many Sierra Leoneans. The creation of socio-economic infrastructure and the provision of energy are vital functions for the realisation of sustainable economic growth and human development. Improving the country’s energy sector is one of government’s foremost objectives. This critical priority was articulated in the Agenda for Change, which was unveiled in 2007 and reinforced in the transformative Agenda for Prosperity. The overall objective of the energy sector is to ensure increased, reliable and efficient supply of electricity for households, small and medium enterprises and improve the operational performance of the National electricity distribution utility. For instance, Kono and Makeni which had been in perennial darkness for over 30 years are now enjoying electricity. Electricity supply and distribution has increased from below 20 megawatts inherited from the SLPP to now over 168 megawatts. This is a significant improvement. A great leap forward under the transformative leadership of President Koroma. Solar Street lights have been installed in all district headquarter towns/cities. Certainly, solar Street lights among other things will improve and enhance safety and security in communities, improve lighting for road users, pedestrians and vehicular movement as well as improving night life and promoting growth in especially urban areas.

The provision of water is an avowed objective of this administration. The significance and centrality government attaches to the provision of water to the populace made government to create a separate Ministry to tackle the problem. Water, they say is life. The government therefore put together the National Water and Sanitation Policy (NWSP) which contains ambitious targets of extending national water supply and Sanitation coverage to 66% and 74% respectively. The three towns water project for Makeni, Bo and Kenema is underway – Makeni has already started enjoying this as taps were opened after 20 years. Bo and Kenema are next in line. Kailahun also got pipe borne water after 25 years. Port Loko, Kambia, Lungi, Pujehun are all currently enjoying clean pipe borne water. Moyamba, Mattru Jong and Kabala will all begin to enjoy pipe borne water in the next few weeks as the projects will be completed in June/July this year. The sector is undergoing profound change and the Ministry of Water Resources, in partnership with other actors, is pursuing a number of reforms. Firstly, we are taking steps to improve water resources management at national, district and local levels, to ensure that the country’s water resources are managed in a sustainable way to ensure availability for all users/uses.

Infrastructural development under this government is a huge success as tangible evidence of transformation of the sector is evident all across the country. The country’s road network was deplorable and pathetically shameful. It was indeed in a bad shape. The 4 lane Wilkinson Road, 4 lane Spur Road, Regent- Grafton Road, Kenema-Pendembu highway, Lungi-Port Loko highway, Kono highway (soon to be completed), Makeni-Kamakwie (soon to be completed), Makeni-Kabala highway (soon to be completed), Moyamba Junction-Moyamba township (under construction), Hillside Byepass Road (under construction) and Lumley-Tokeh road (also under construction) and the roads done in all district headquarter towns are clear evidences of work being done to overcome the bad road network of the past. But the list is endless.

Agriculture being one of the thematic pillars prioritized by President Koroma’s Agenda for Change has also experienced a massive turn around. It could be recalled that President Koroma in 2007 made agriculture one of his top list of priorities with a vision to transforming the sector to act as the engine of socio-economic growth and development through commercialization and the promotion of the private sector, including farmers, farmer-based organizations. Government significantly increased the budgetary allocation to the sector from a paltry 1.6% inherited from the last government to the current 10% being allocated by the National budget, and embarked on the process of developing a comprehensive roadmap for the long-term development of the sector within the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme commonly known as the CAADP process. This process, the president once said, “led to the formulation of the National Sustainable Agricultural Development Programme (NSADP), which focused attention on smallholder farmers which led to the conceptualisation and formulation of the Smallholder Commercialization Programme (SCP), popularly known as “Farm for Business�?. Seed distribution to farmers started in earnest last year to gain maximum productivity in the planting season. The Agriculture Ministry has distributed rice seeds to over 73,000 farmers and fertilisers to over 35,000 farmers. 1,376 kilometers of feeder roads have been completed to connect target crops to markets. 20 Agricultural Business Centers (ABCs) have been transformed to drive agro-processing facilities, 68 Farming Support Associations around 5,000 farmers have received support through equipment and access to finance to sustain their activities.

Amid the devastating effects of the unprecedented Ebola outbreak, government fulfilled its promise and increased salaries for all public sector workers, paramount chiefs, councilors, teachers and lecturers. Under this government, there has been an increase in the minimum wage from Le21,000 to Le500,000 and paid school fees for 1.1 million students for two years, cured 29,000 children of malnutrition, 9,000 schools are now using new core content for accelerated learning, 206 new classrooms built in previously overcrowded schools and free health care introduced in 2010 for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five.

In 2008, the government of SL improved on its commitment to fight corruption through legislation empowering the ACC with independent investigative and prosecutorial powers without recourse to the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice as well as strengthening the ACC itself through adequate budgetary support. The government has adopted two national anti-corruption strategies, which focused on prevention and constructive engagements. The current strategy (2008-2013) came to an end in 2013. This gave rise to the crafting of the new five-year national Anti-Corruption Strategy (2014-2018). The Pay-No-Bribe campaign was launched by President Koroma to directly tackle corruption by enabling members of the public to report corruption and providing institutions with the necessary information, cleaning of payrolls in health and education – ghost teachers and workers under the former administration, strengthened and gave relevance to the Auditor-General’s department, institutional reforms like the performance contract and management system, the Legal Aid Board, Disability Commission, Youth Commission, Public Private Partnership, Millennium Challenge Corporation Coordinating Unit, National Protected Area, the Corporate Affairs Commission and Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency, Local Content Agency among others.

From the foregoing, it’s quite clear this government is on the right path to achieve sustainable development for all its citizens. Whether our detractors face the reality on the ground or not, the people know the truth because they are feeling it. No need to go back and forth on this. The evidence is out there for all to see and acknowledge.

©Jaramenajara from the Wara Wara Mountains

Agenda for Prosperity is at Work

The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and its obsession with negative news about the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) government is unbelievable.

The opposition SLPP’s mouthpiece – Unity, especially in its Tuesday 26th July 2016 publication – could do the people of this country a lot of good by reporting efforts of government in tackling the economy and where it needs to do more.

It could also help to disseminate government plans to revamp private sector led growth and what more needs to be done. But to claim that the Agenda for Prosperity (A4P) has derailed from its target and that government has reduced the people to destitution will not cut ice with the public amid the tremendous work that has been put into the ongoing transformation drive under this result-oriented leadership of President Ernest Koroma.

It even pays little or no dividend to try to create political capital out of the blunders of Universal Impex and shift the blame on government. The A4P is a clear roadmap for the country’s self-sufficiency and a solid foundation enroute to middle-income status by 2035. Also, it would do the SLPP spinsters a world of good to accept the fact that prosperity does not come on a silver platter. “Government is not an importer of chicken nor does it attempt to subject its people to destitution in any shape or form because the forward looking leadership of President Koroma has always proved to be responsive to the needs of the people,” said Mohamed Kuyateh, a petty trader at Hagan Street in Freetown.

For the benefit of the narrow minded SLPP Unity newspaper editor, government is on track to return the country on the pathway of the A4P following the effective and successful implementation of the President’s Recovery Priorities already enjoying the full cooperation and support of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and other development partners. Social service delivery is on track ranging from clean and safe pipe borne water supply to regional, district and chiefdom headquarter towns by the Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO), constant electricity supply to Freetown, Bo, Kenema, Makeni and Kono, increased industrial and agricultural productivity, with subsidies to farmers, modern road infrastructure network in major towns and cities, free health care services for under five children, pregnant women and lactating mothers. To turn a blind eye to these developments by engrossing in outright negative propaganda against the people of this country is just disingenuous to say the least.

It’s for this reason that many pundits have described as “unfortunate” the Unity newspaper persistent penchant to distort information relating to the steady progress on the sustenance and ongoing successful implementation of the A4P projects. So the sooner ‘The Unity’ spin doctors realize that the A4P is here to stay to deliver development on the doorsteps of the people of this country, regardless of region, tribe or political affiliation, the better it will be for them and their cronies.

Now to the contaminated chicken matter which the non-operational and inconsistent opposition mouthpiece is trying to rope government in on as if people were forced to clamour over the ‘rotten’ chicken after it was disposed at the Bomeh dumpsite for destruction. This shouldn’t be blamed on government but the importers, MASADA Waste Management Company, the Senior Public Health Superintendent, Head of Ports Health Mr Sallu Deen and the Maersk Line shipping agency who actually failed to search for a suitable site for the dumping of such mess. Therefore as a responsible government, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) on Friday 22nd July issued a stern warning in a press release, calling on the public to refrain from buying or consuming the product as it is unfit for human consumption. This is a clear warning to vindicate the MOHS.

However what is left to be properly grasped by the editor of the Unity newspaper is that the consignment of ‘rotten’ chicken was not brought in by government but Universal Impex; a company that has engaged in the business of chicken importation for ages. “Where does the government come into all this? if one may ask.

Moreover, it’s quite clear all trade monitors assigned to the Queen Elizabeth II Quay from the Ministry of Trade and Industry and other MDAs responsible for the inspection of food consignments coming into the country should continue to keep up their guards to ensure that all imported food stuff are safe and fine for human consumption. As for inspection of the terrible chicken container, to ascertain as to whether it was fine for human consumption, Communication Officer Sierra Leone Standards Bureau Abu Bakarr Sallieu Bah said they were not informed about the exercise and adds that the right procedures were not followed especially by the line ministries and the importers as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau as well as the Consumer Protection Agency were not part of the ‘rotten’ chicken disposal exercise. This lends credence to a huge lack of coordination of efforts between partners including the Freetown City Council’s Mayor; Franklyn Bode Gibson has pronounced that another dumping of similar products is underway. It is only hoped that this time around a suitable location will be identified to dump ‘expired’ food instead of the traditional Bomeh, so as to protect the people from such hazardous wastes as well as keep the environment safer as boldly encapsulated in the AFP.

So far Universal Impex Managing Director, Manoj Shahana said the chicken did not leave Brazil contaminated but went bad aboard the Maersk Line ship, due to hot temperature that led to the malfunctioning of the container beyond repairs. He said the chicken was not even expired, adding that shipment from Brazil to Freetown normally takes more than thirty days. He added that the shipping agency only informed them (Universal Impex) back home that the product had gone bad aboard the vessel, which Universal Impex considered it as a breach of initial arrangements by the shipping company.

Mr Shahana flatly disowned the contaminated forty feet chicken container arguing that his company didn’t order damaged chicken and denied having knowledge of how the consignment reached Freetown. He however accepted that the cargo was destined for Freetown as per initial order agreement between the producers and Universal Impex. Asked how the destruction of the ‘rotten’ chicken was conducted, Mr Shahana explained; “We didn’t know when, how, and where it was disposed.” He alleged that Maersk Line shipping agency contracted MASADA Waste Management Company and the consignment was taken to the Bomeh dumpsite for ‘voluntary destruction.’ On the other hand, with more containers loaded of similar products left in Universal Impex warehouse, Mr Shahana is worried as the ‘rotten’ chicken scam has damaged and left his company with a bad reputation, and thus threatened to lay off staff if fall in sales continues.

But the Project Manager MASADA Waste Management, Aminata Dumbya whose staff are reportedly held in police custody, said her company was contracted on July 22nd by the Ministry Health and Sanitation Senior Public Health Superintendent, Head of Ports Health, Mr Sallu Deen for the crushing and disposal of a forty feet container frozen chicken that had gone bad.

A MASADA report complied on the operation states that the forty feet container of the frozen chicken was evacuated from Queen Elizabeth II Quay to the Granville Brook dumpsite, Kissy in the East of Freetown to be disposed of, adding that a frontend loader was provided by MASADA, cleared the way, dug a pit and the contaminated chicken was brought to the dumpsite by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, who inspected the pit before the disposal of the chicken.

The reported furthered that the container truck was stuck in the mud which created a spectacle of onlookers before Mr Deen ordered the container to be opened to start the crushing and dumping process. It revealed that there were close to twenty-five Police personnel at the dumpsite for the exercise, though there was a gap of thirty-feet between the pit and the container. It noted that the frontend loader transported three trips of the contaminated chicken to the pit and broke down having dumped about 80% of the ‘rotten’ chicken. The MASADA reporter revealed that the operation attracted over 800 unauthorized persons at the dumpsite, who had grown into a disorderly crowd and started closing in on the Police with intentions to grab the crushed chicken.

Head of Media and Public Relations Assistant Superintendent of Police, Brima Kamara said the Sierra Leone Police was fully involved in the disposal of the ‘rotten’ chicken and provided security for the exercise. But due to fuel shortage from the frontend loader provided by MASADA the operation was halted at a particular point, which led to scramble for the chicken by onlookers. Mr Kamara said the frontend loader was refueled but later developed airlock, and added that if there was no delay and conspiracy from the crushers, the disposal process would not have been interrupted out of lawlessness. The Police Spokesman said six people including the tractor/frontend loader operator have been arrested and are presently at the Criminal Investigation Department helping with elastic investigations into the matter.

Meanwhile, Police search continues for the ‘rotten’ chicken in markets and all food stalls and shops across the country.

With the availability of social services across the board, including uninterrupted power supply, it tells that the A4P has not degenerated from State House to Bomeh dumpsite and there is no doubt that the APC government’s development trajectory will not be distracted and the AFP will continue to deliver on its set goals to the wishes and aspirations of the people. So my candid advice to The Unity is for them to take a break from their obsession with negative news about Sierra Leone – land that we love.

President Koroma urges UN to move with the times

President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma delivered a rousing speech at the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday September 22, 2016, calling on the international governing body to move with the times and speed up the reform of the UN Security Council.

As chairman of the African Union Committee of Ten Heads of State and Government on the Reform of the United Nations Security Council, the president stressed that no matter what they as leaders do at the national or global level, the world “will not be able to deliver on the SDGs’ promise of an inclusive, fairer and better world without the reform of the United Nations.”

The president spoke about some of his administration’s biggest achievements, including access to justice, women and youth employment and empowerment. He also thanked the outgone UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for Sierra Leone’s successful fight against the Ebola epidemic; a fight won with the help of the UN and bilateral partners.

President Koroma also talked about the significance of the Paris climate agreement, which he signed soon after addressing the General Assembly. He pointed out that although Sierra Leone contributes almost nothing to global warming, it is the third most vulnerable country to the effects of climate change. He therefore delineates climate change as an urgent life and death matter. “That is why we welcome the Paris Agreement,” he said, and told world leaders about his government’s commitment to implement its provisions in Sierra Leone. “My Government, in collaboration with our development partners, is implementing projects on adaptation, including climate information and early warning systems. We remain committed to these efforts and we seek further collaboration in confronting this global threat against humanity,” he assured.

The speech was also a stark warning to the UN of the grim international consequences should the premier governing body continue to hold on the edicts and structures established 71 years ago, calling on the UN to move with the times by carrying out the relevant reforms. Straight from the shoulder, President Koroma told world leaders that the UN lacks the democratic competencies to tackle the developmental, security and other challenges facing Africa and many other parts of the world today. “Without strong African voices at the highest level of our premier global decision making body; without the energetic voices of the region with the largest number of young people, without the decisive contribution of the continent that is mostly affected by Security Council decisions, no solution proffered to our challenges by the United Nations would be sustained, inclusive or lasting,” the chairman of the C-10 declared amid rapturous applause by the audience.

As the voice of Africa under the aegis of the C-10, the Sierra Leonean leader told the UN that Africa stands united behind the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration and urged against any attempt to take down their position through divide and rule reminiscent of colonialism.

President Koroma also told the assembled representatives of the UN’s member states that Sierra Leone is now ready to deploy its newly Formed Police Units (FUPs), Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) units as well as Police Guards to the UN Standby Arrangement System (UNSAS) at short notice in fulfillment of the country’s pledge made to the Leader’s Summit on Peacekeeping in September, 2015.

The president reiterated his government’s commitment to good governance; address the underlying causes of fragility and drivers of conflict, effective management of the country’s natural resources in a bid to transform Sierra Leone into a middle-income nation by 2035. He also reminded the international community, including its bilateral friends to fulfill their pledges to the country’s recovery programme. President Koroma further expressed the urgent need for all parties to cooperate with global initiatives in finding enduring peace in Syria, South Sudan and Libya, and called for action in resolving the Israel Palestine conflict, in fighting terrorism, and what he described as “dangerous escalations in the arms race”.

Certainly, many of the arguments by the president were aimed at the UN which has failed to adopt measures, including text based negotiations that will lead to a comprehensive and early reform of the Security Council to reflect contemporary realities. He urged the assembled leaders to speed up the reform process so that Africa can take its rightful place in the UN Security Council.

After the speech, President Koroma had bilateral meetings with the President of the General Assembly Peter Thomson, the outgone UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and attended a reception ceremony hosted by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He also took interviews with the CCTV and BBC in between his bilateral meetings.

IMF praises Sierra Leone’s Economic Reforms under President Koroma

On Monday September 26, 2016, the Chief of Mission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), John Wakeman-Linn, paid President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma a visit at State House.

The purpose of the visit was to update the president on the outcome of the sixth and final review under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF). This facility is a lending arrangement that provides sustained program engagement over the medium to long term in case of protracted balance of payments problems. The IMF Executive Board approved the arrangement for Sierra Leone in October 2013.

Following consultations and constructive discussions with the Sierra Leonean authorities, the IMF has in an end-of-mission press release described the economic reforms undertaken by the Government of Sierra Leone as largely on track and largely successful. “The economy proved resilient in the face of two major exogenous shocks: the Ebola epidemic and collapse of iron ore prices and associated loss of production in 2014 – 2015,” the fund said in its press release issued on September 27, 2016.

It extolled the changes the government has implemented: “Prudent fiscal policy throughout the program contributed to the achievement of a relatively low fiscal deficit. Credible monetary policy contributed to price stability, bringing inflation down from over 20 percent at the beginning of the program to single digits, although in recent months it has begun to increase somewhat.”

“The current account balance has strengthened. International reserves have risen to more than $500 million,” the release added.

Amid concerns that the economy needs revamping after the Ebola epidemic, the IMF encouraged the government to put emphasis on price stability, while remaining attentive to second round pressures on prices. “Exchange rate and market policies should be transparently implemented,” the fund urged.

Notwithstanding, the mission was pleased that all quantitative performance criteria for end-June 2016 were met and consequently, Sierra Leone’s sixth and final review under the ECF arrangement is tentatively scheduled for consideration by the IMF Executive Board in November 2016.

Click on link to read Press Release :http://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2016/09/27/PR16428-Sierra-Leone-IMF-Staff-Completes-Review-Mission

Click on link to read story on the visit of the IMF Chief of Mission:http://www.statehouse.gov.sl/index.php/component/content/article/34-news-articles/1622-president-vows-to-stay-engaged-with-the-people

Despite the challenges, Sierra Leoneans are paying attention

Despite the current socio-economic challenges facing the country, majority of Sierra Leoneans are paying attention to the efforts of the government to turn things around for the betterment of everyone. Even in times of trails and difficulties, our people have shown the capacity to keep their eyes on the ball; they had shown resilience during the Ebola epidemic that almost brought the country to its knees.

At a recent emergency pre-cabinet meeting, His Excellency the President, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma said that if we were able to fight and defeat Ebola, we should be able to put up a fight that will turn around the economic fortunes of the country. I cannot agree more with the president. Sierra Leoneans have shown resilience time without number. Our recovery after the war in the 1990s to early 2000s is a case in point in support of our capacity to fight back and come out strong which eventually endeared the country to many multi-lateral organizations like the UN, IMF and World Bank. Sierra Leone was affectionately singled out as an example of a post-war country that recovered in record time.

There’s no gainsaying that the Ebola outbreak disrupted every aspect of life, and economic growth particularly, was hit like a thunderbolt. Considering the deadly nature of the virus and the horrific narrative accompanying it, it wasn’t easy to break the back of the disease. But with perseverance, determination and resilience, Sierra Leoneans, led by their result-oriented leader, embarked on a massive social mobilization campaign for community ownership and responsibility of the fight against Ebola, which ultimately led to victory against the stubborn virus.

Similarly, if this engendered spirit of ownership and responsibility were replicated in the current economic conditions, it would not only bring an end to the economic crisis, but will accelerate growth in almost all sectors. It would be logical therefore to draw an inference that effective engagement of people would create effective and practical ways of proffering solutions, hence, reiterating the president’s call to look at practical ways to minimize the challenges facing the country.

The recent policy measures adopted by government have been a topical debate in almost every quarter of the population. These comprehensive measures have captured a significant proportion of public imagination concerning government spending and have led some sections of the public to liken President Koroma to the Tanzanian President, John Mogufuli, fondly called the “Bulldozer”. Like Mogufuli, Koroma is determined to cut unnecessary expenditure, shrink the number of overseas travels and put stringent measures in place to turn around what many knew was one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Such public display of prudence is bound to be a lasting legacy of President Koroma’s leadership to restore equitable and sustainable economic growth in this country.

Unfortunately, the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), in a press release issued on Thursday October 6, 2016, blamed the current economic slowdown on what they described as “lack of vision…and mismanagement of our economy” by the government. Apart from the fact that the APC assumed the mantle of office on the eve of the global financial crisis, with high commodity and oil prices, affecting almost every country on earth, the Ebola epidemic and a slump in iron ore prices have had their own devastating impact on the country’s economy as the SLPP itself admits.

Recently, the IMF, in an end-of mission press statement, described the economic reforms undertaken by the Government of Sierra Leone as largely on track and largely successful. “The economy proved resilient in the face of two major exogenous shocks: the Ebola epidemic and collapse of iron ore prices and associated loss of production in 2014 – 2015,” the fund said in its press release issued on September 27, 2016. What does the SLPP mean by “…it is deceitful for this government to wilfully blame our economic woes on the EVD…”? So is the IMF also “deceitful” for praising the economic reforms undertaken by the Government of Sierra Leone?

The World Economic Outlook (WEO) published a few days ago by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) presents IMF economists’ analyses of global economic developments, issues affecting advanced, emerging, and developing economies like ours. The global economy is expected to slow to 3.1 percent in 2016 before recovering to 3.4 percent in 2017. However, risks to the outlook remain and include uncertainty regarding the impact of the UK Vote in favour of leaving the European Union (Brexit), weakness in aggregate demand and investment and low commodity prices.

Big and small nations all stand to be affected by this but the IMF has already recommended that countries need to rely on all policy levers—monetary, fiscal and structural—to lift growth prospects. Just yesterday the British Pound tumbled to lowest level against the dollar since 1985. This year, the US dollar index also hit a five month low.

According to the World Economic Outlook, “Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest economies continue to struggle with lower commodity revenues, weighing on growth in the region. Nigeria’s economy is forecast to shrink 1.7 percent in 2016, and South Africa’s will barely expand. By contrast, several of the region’s non-commodity exporters, including Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Senegal, are expected to continue to grow at a robust pace of more than 5 percent this year.” The Monetary Policy Statement issued by the Bank of Sierra Leone following their Q3 2016 Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting on September 28, notes that, in spite of the weak global economic environment, especially low commodity prices, real GDP growth is projected at 4.9 per cent in 2016, up from an earlier projection of 4.3 per cent. The MPC concluded that there is potential to further diversify the economy from ongoing investments in the agricultural sector, as domestic output was still below its potential.

But in all of this, one thing that gives some of us comfort is the fact that Sierra Leoneans are paying attention. They understand and appreciate the developmental and transformative efforts of this government since 2007. They know that the roads today are far better than 9 years ago; they know that electricity generation and distribution is far better than 9 years ago; Sierra Leoneans know that there has been considerable improvement in agricultural production and value addition. We all know that marine and fisheries sector is making tremendous contribution to the GDP more than ever before. A lot has happened on the legal landscape insofar as access to justice is concerned and the ordinary man and woman are paying rapt attention to the work of the Legal Aid Board.

In addition, it is good that the SLPP has found time to “rub some tongue” (a Mende saying) on the current economic challenges facing our country. It’s a good thing to find time to weigh in on our country’s socio-economic melancholy, especially when they are only well known over a decade now for infighting and political bickering. But then the people are paying attention to all this and many still believe the SLPP is unfit to serve as an alternative for now. They still don’t have a clue as to how to run their party let alone a whole country in a world plagued by recession.