Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 January 2016
Sierra Leone may be poor, but it will not accept crap that others do not want for themselves.
Government’s plans to import rubbish from Lebanon is evidence of the contempt with which it holds the people of Sierra Leone, and the extent to which the government will go in putting the lives of ordinary people in jeopardy. It is absurd, brazen and reckless.
This saga reveals that the APC government is emboldened to act in this manner. This is not the exception, it is the norm.
Ernest Koroma and the APC machinery quite literally, ripped apart the constitution of Sierra Leone in the removal from office of an elected Vice President – a decision endorsed by corrupt judges in the Supreme Court.
Embolden by the lack of scrutiny by the rudderless SLPP and without any restraint from a weak and partisan legislature, they raided $14 million of Ebola funds designed to support the very fragile health systems, which was so badly exposed during the crisis.
For a whole academic year, our schools were shut during the Ebola crisis. But the Ministry of Education had no plans for ensuring that children continued to have access to education.
The government has failed to ensure that students at Fourah Bay College are provided with living accommodation, despite the fact that a $37 million funding to rehabilitate the university campus was granted three years ago.
Following Alie Kabba’s (Photo) detention at Pademba Road prison, we saw glimpses of the appalling and inhumane conditions in which detainees that have not yet been found guilty, and those who have been convicted are held.
It exposes the absence of a criminal justice policy and raises the question whether the government makes no allocation for the welfare of people who are within the criminal justice system, or whether it simply disregards their human rights, and does not concern itself whether the contracts to supply goods and services to the prison are honoured.
In fact, one must ask, who these contracts have been awarded to and what connections, if any these individuals have with senior politicians, including President Koroma.
Sierra Leone continues to lurch from one crisis to another. The recent floods have shown that the drainage systems clogged up with filth, can no longer cope during the rainy seasons.
With the lack of effective spatial planning and building controls, environmental disasters have become routine occurrences, with frequent mudslides and damage to buildings and properties.
As if this is not enough, the government’s approach to building control is typified in the demolition of homes and buildings in Aberdeen.
The plan to import waste into the country takes the contempt of the government to another level. However, this is nothing new. During the 1980s, the same APC government was involved in the importation of toxic waste into the country. Freetown is one of the filthiest capital cities in the world today.
There is no organised refuse collection system and the city’s entire drainage network is chocking with waste that has clogged up for years. Citizens have become accustomed to the filth around them, dropping litter everywhere.
Street market traders are content to push aside the garbage to make space for their wares.
Against this backdrop of institutionalised filth, this corrupt and moribund APC government in their own self-interest were planning to import waste from Lebanon.
This is a country emerging from an Ebola epidemic which killed over 4000 of our citizens. Prior to Ebola, there was an outbreak of cholera, which killed over 300 people.
Malaria is one of our biggest killers and filthy conditions make excellent breeding conditions for mosquitoes. Yet instead of putting in place the measures that would prevent a future Ebola epidemic, the government’s priority is to import waste from Lebanon.
This is however not surprising, given that at the height of the crisis, Ernest Koroma was preoccupied with engineering the removal of an elected Vice President.
The role of IB Kargbo raises other questions about governance.
IB Kargbo is implicated and yet has just been elected as a Member of Parliament in a recent bye election.
What is he doing, signing a contract to import waste into the country?
This scandal goes beyond Kargbo. It must have its origins at State House.
Instead of scrutinising legislation and put checks on the government, we have a member of the legislature, at the heart of another emerging corruption scandal.
The incompetent Ministry of Health and Sanitation which was ill prepared during Ebola, is not consulted on the implications of importing Lebanon’s waste.
Why did the president fail to convene a cabinet meeting to discuss the Lebanese waste proposal before telling the Lebanese where to stick their rubbish?
This is classic Koroma, side stepping ministers at will, while maintaining the façade of effectiveness with a new crop of Johnnies come lately in his recent cabinet reshuffle.
Yet an agenda for More Time for President Koroma is being hatched in collusion with Julius Maada Bio.
People of Sierra Leone, it is time to wake up and ask the fundamental questions about the society you want, and how far you are prepared to have your hopes and dreams emasculated by a corrupt and self-interested political elite.
The ruling APC have shown a blatant disregard and contempt for the people’s wellbeing as they continue to use public funds and debts taken out in your name to enrich themselves, while feeding us with blatant lies and propaganda.
About the author:
Mr. Alan Luke is a member of the KKY (UK&I) Communications Team.