Wilberforce Military Barracks, Freetown, Monday 25 April 2022 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio, today presented the ultra-modern buildings to officers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, RSLAF, at the Military Barracks on Wilberforce before he turned the sod to construct the Warrant Officers and Sergeants’ Mess.
“But it does not end there. This building will only cater for the accommodation and social activities of Officers. But we also believe that other ranks of the force should have access to modern facilities. From this ceremony, I will move to the Warrant Officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers’ ground to turn the sod for the construction of an ultra-modern Mess for their use,” he said.
It could be recalled that on 30 December 2019, as Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces, the President turned the sod for the construction of the buildings unveiled, adding that in record time, and in spite of the challenges of a global pandemic and other constraints, they reduced the old Myohaung Officers’ Mess to rubble and then transformed it into imposing edifices that would serve generations of fine officers.
“In 2018, President Xi welcomed me to the People’s Republic of China, and also discussed and concluded with me several agreements on areas of cooperation between our two friendly nations. This beautiful building is a result of that trip.
“My Government, through the Ministry of Defence, has procured a limited number of furniture while we await the full complement of customised furniture and equipment from the People’s Republic of China. Once that arrives and is installed, the building will be fully available for use,” he said.
President Bio also noted that he had always spoken about purposeful infrastructural development and that was why he was going to make sure that the officers must not access such magnificent buildings on pock-marked and dusty roads.
“I have, therefore, authorised funding to the Sierra Leone Roads Authority to pave the network of roads within the Wilberforce Barracks area. This will progress at the same time as other Western Area barracks roads.
“With respect to the Officers’ Mess, let me say that I am of these colours. This army taught me and groomed me to respect the values of patriotism, public service, and discipline. When I turned the sod for this Officers’ Mess, I argued that soldiering goes beyond mere soldiering skills. Regimentation, esprit de corps, and discipline are essential. This imposing Officers’ Mess is meant to promote those essential ingredients of morale and thus maintain the great traditions of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces,” he noted.
In a welcome address earlier, Brigadier General Dauda Fred Alpha, Commandant of Third Infantry Brigade and President of the Mess Committee, said he was profoundly honoured to be at the epoch-making event, and observed that the facility had been upgraded to a state-of-the-art complex.
He further noted that the Mess consisted of 104 self-contained rooms, fully furnished for young and single officers, adding that it had a 350-seater conference hall, a kitchen with a 90-seater dining hall, a classical gym, and an elevator.
“I would like to assure His Excellency and our audience that stringent measures have already been put in place to sustain this legacy through comprehensive Standard Operating Procedures, among others to emphasis a daily upkeep and periodic inspection of these magnificent structures,” he assured.
Minister of Defense, Brigadier General (Rtd), Kelly Hassan Conteh, said it was with a heart filled with joy and gratitude to God that he was a part of the commissioning of the newly built Single Officers’ Mess and the turning of the sod for the construction of the Warrant Officers, and Sergeants Mess. He added that it was in fulfilment of President Bio’s commitment to upgrading the RSLF into a professional institution.
He further noted that the work was completed in real-time, despite the disruption caused by the Coronavirus disease, saying that they at the Ministry of Defense were grateful to the President and the People’s Republic of China for the construction of the edifice.
“We are very grateful that you have kept your word as always. On behalf of the officer core, we want to assure you, Your Excellency, and that we will jealously guard, protect and utilise these edifices for the purposes for which they have been built,” he assured.
Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, His Excellency Hu Zhangliang, said the construction of the Myohaung Officers’ Mess was another concrete step to maintaining the China–Sierra Leone relationship and was one of the priority projects of their cooperation. He noted that the project would not only contribute to the improvement and living conditions of the RSLAF, but it would also bring them a stronger sense of honour and mission and help boost their morale.
“This is a project that presents the full meaning of our genuine partnership. During this time, our two sides have been consulting each other on equal footing, sharing skills and expertise, overcoming difficulties hand in hand, and braving the wind and rain together.
“By setting this project as one of the top priorities in our cooperation, His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio and the government of Sierra Leone demonstrated their firm commitment to the enhancement of the wellbeing of RSLAF men and women, while the Chines government and the people demonstrated full understanding and respect for that consideration,” he explained.
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