Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 July 2018:
In his foreword to the Sierra Leone People’s Party Manifesto, 2018, as then Presidential Candidate, President Julius Maada Bio writes that: “Our New Direction therefore offers the people of Sierra Leone a stark choice between the current ‘Business as Usual Status Quo’ of the APC that has converted Sierra Leone into a land of poverty, rampant corruption, gross indiscipline and underdevelopment and the SLPP’s New Direction’s promise of efficient and effective management of the state that will make Sierra Leone a significantly better country through inclusive politics, inclusive economic growth, inclusive development and inclusive governance.”
This Stark choice has been made ever-glaring by the economic burden left by the All People’s Congress Government: external debt amounting to US$1.6 billion; domestic debt amounting to Le4.99 trillion; an exploded payroll of Le2 trillion; Government arrears to local contractors and vendors amounting to US$1.4 billion or Le10.7 trillion; the suspension of the Extended Credit Facility by the International Monetary Fund; and the suspension of the operations of Shandong Steel as the major exporter of iron ore.
With such inheritance, the priority for president Bio in his First 100 Days has been to pursue fiscal consolidation focusing mainly on enhancing domestic revenue mobilization and expenditure rationalization to restore macroeconomic stability.
Despite the Government’s impressive measures on economic recovery, the achievements within the First 100 Days in governance including the historic reading of the Supplementary Government Budget on 13th July, 2018, have shown a Government that is truly a New Direction.
The Bio led government achievements in its first 100 days, can be seen in four key policy areas: Transforming the Economy; Human Development; Improving Governance and Improving Infrastructure.
So, what has the government done to improve the nation’s infrastructure, such as electricity, water, information technology, housing, the environment, and roads? This is what it says:
An effective and efficient infrastructure forms the bedrock for sustainable development. Poor infrastructure has been a critical barrier to accelerating growth, enhancing regional integration and reducing poverty.
Sierra Leone’s infrastructure remains grossly inadequate and very poorly maintained. Within the First 100 days, the Government of President Bio has achieved the following:
An agreement was signed on 11th June 2018 between the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Finance, the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) and Karadeniz Powership Kaya Bey Company Limited, (Karpowership), to provide a two-year Utility Grid Infrastructure & Electricity, for the generation of electricity from its Maritime vessel docked in Freetown.
The agreement reduced the tariff to 16.4USc/KWh from the original tariff of 19.596USc/KWh negotiated by the former Government. This represents an annual savings of approximately US$9 million.
The agreement also reduced the duration of the contract from 5 to 2 years (+ 1-year option), in line with the medium term strategy of the energy sector and to minimize Government’s exposure in the event of early termination of the contract. Contract for the supply of 30MW during the Dry Season (7 months) and 15MW during the Rainy Season (5 months)
A Technical Team provided by the Millennium Challenge Commission (MCC) is currently working with the Ministry of Energy to implement the Action Plan for the Energy Sector Roadmap 2017-2030.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Ministry of Energy and UNOPS on 29th June 2018 for the expansion of the Rural Renewable Energy Project (RREP) of mini-grids from 54 chiefdoms to 194 chiefdoms.
The Energy Policy was launched at the Miatta Conference Hall by the Minister of Energy on 30th May 2018.
Rehabilitation of Bo-Kenema Transmission & Distribution Network ($52M USD) funded by DFID/ADB.
Ministry of Energy worked with Ministry of Finance to create the Interim Collection Account for EDSA.
The Ministry of Energy established a Training Center (Digital Lab) at EDSA Murray Town office.
In the absence of consistent payment from Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) for electricity generated and billed, Government provided funds for procurement of fuel to sustain electricity supply to all EGTC thermal engines across the country.
The Ministry of Energy commissioned 2X3MW MAN Engines at Kono Power Plant for the supply of electricity to Koidu city.
Information and communication
Ministry of Information and Communications has dissolve the Attitudinal and Behavioural Secretariat (ABC) as it does synchronize with the New Direction agenda for Good Governance.
The Ministry of Information and Communications has dissolved the over bloated Universal Access Development Fund Agency (UADF) as it has not delivered on its core mandate, which is to drive rural Connectivity. This will be replaced with a more focused and leaner team that will drive rural connectivity.
The Ministry of Information and Communications has established the Telecom Action Group (TAG) to help set a new trajectory for the delivery of quality and affordable ICT/telecom services. This is a multi-sectoral group comprising of Ministry, NATCOM and all the ICT/Telecom service providers to address critical challenges affecting the sector. The ultimate goal is to drive down prices of ICT services in line with regional trends.
The Ministry of Information and Communications has relocated the Right to Access Information Commission Headquarters and Western Area office to the Post Office Building, saving Government over US $ 30,000 Yearly rent. This is in part the drive to be prudent with government expenditure.
Ministry of Information and Communications has reviewed the NATCOM Act to reflect emerging trends in the sector and international best practices. The draft reviewed legislation contains among other things, national cyber security components. This Bill is ready for onward submission to the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
Ministry of Information and Communications has developed a National Data Protection and Privacy Law. Development of a Data Protection and Privacy Law is an international requirement in delivering data driven content.
The Ministry of Information and Communications has developed the National Electronic Transaction Bill. The Bill will promote e-Commerce and improve our rating in the World Bank’ Doing Business Reform and financial transactions ranking. The New Bill will be tabled in Parliament and once passed, it will enhance admissibility of electronic document in legal proceedings.
Within the First 100 days, discussions between Ministry of Information and Communications and Attorney-General and Minister of Justice are at an advanced stage, in anticipation of a cabinet paper sanctioning the repeal of Part V of the Public Order Act of 1965.
Ministry of Information and Communications has connected the Canadian College of Technology at mile 91 in the Tonkolili district to the Fibre Optic Backbone to provide broadband services. This is a premier ICT training college in the country.
Ministry of Information and Communications has restored broadband internet to Njala Bo campus that is serving over 3000 students and staff.
Ministry of Information and Communications has developed a National Digital Migration framework, in furtherance of commitment to fulfil the ITU GE06 mandate for countries to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting.
Lands, Housing and the Environment
Ministry of Lands, Housing and the Environment successfully conducted a one-day community engagement dialogue with community elders on Tuesday 12th June, 2018, at the Miatta Conference Centre on “Their Roles in the Reclamation of State Lands and Protection of the Environment”.
Major stakeholders included the Mayor Freetown City Council, Chairpersons, Headmen and Women. The event culminated in the production of a communique signed by all stakeholders, indicating maximum support for the ministry in this venture.
The Ministry of Lands, Housing and the Environment spearheaded payments to the tune of Le 7.2 Billion to residents at Mortomeh, whose properties were identified in the red zone for demolition, as a measure to protect the environment and prevent future mudslide. The Ministry collaborated with the Office of the Chief Minister and Office of National Security.
The Ministry of Lands, Housing and the Environment successfully reviewed the processes and procedures governing the acquisition and management of state lands in the country, especially in the western area.
The reclamation of state lands in the Western Area is in full gear and the Ministry of Lands, Housing and the Environment has identified areas such as Aberdeen, Gloucester, Mogbegba, Waterloo, etc for eventual reclamation. State land signposts have been erected in some spots around the city. Series of land matters/cases have also been resolved within the Ministry without recourse to the courts.
The Ministry of Lands, Housing and the Environment has successfully mediated the long running dispute at Clay factory between the Motor Drivers and other major stakeholders. This has paved the way for the commencement of proper operations of all activities at the Clay factory.
The Ministry of Lands, Housing and the Environment successfully established a community platform at the SLBC called “The Ministry of Lands Hour”, in which the policies of the Ministry are relayed to the public for attention.
Most roads, especially within Freetown experience flooding during the rains. This leads to serious congestion and creates potential danger for all road users and the public. The Ministry of Works and Public Assets in concert with SLRA and FCC, conducted a survey and ten major points were selected for immediate attention.
His Excellency the President Commissioned the 80 kilometer Bo – Mattru Jong Road, as his first big infrastructural project since becoming President.
The circumstances currently surrounding the maintenance and availability of government quarters for all categories of Government functionaries is nothing short of a crisis. This has imposed hugely exorbitant but avoidable bills on government’s scarce resources. The Ministry of Works and Public Assets has set up an independent committee for the verification of all government quarters nationwide.
The 9-man independent committee commenced work on Thursday, 5th July 2018 with the following mandate: a full inventory of all category of quarters will be compiled; a comprehensive register of all occupants (legal and illegal) of government quarters will also be compiled; and an accurate assessment of the status of all quarters will be made possible.
Youyi Building houses a number of government MDAs. Over time, the safety of the structure and personnel have been compromised. To address this situation, under the guidance of the Deputy Minister of Works and Public Assets, the Ministry is working with partners to conduct an evaluation, quantity survey and documentation for the rehabilitation of Youyi Building.
The Minister of Works and Public Assets has identified the lack of concrete governance policies and framework as a serious gap to effective road infrastructure development, support and maintenance.
Such a governance structure provides a clear, transparent and accountable system by which the country can enjoy quality and functional road usage (Durability). Therefore, the Minister has led consultative meetings to design a framework for developing a comprehensive governance system to redress the current lapses.
Through the Ministry of Water Resources, contract is expected to be signed in September, 2018 for the Construction of Rokel River Water supply system for both phases 1 (100 m3/day) and 2 (100 m3/day).
Water supply has been provided for up to 50% of the population in Bo, Kenema and Makeni through the operationalisation of the three (3) Towns Water Supply Projects in Bo, Makeni and Kenema.
Through the Ministry of Water Resources, US$20M funding is now available for the extension of pipe network to ensure full operationalisation from 90 to 100% of the three (3) Towns Water Supply Projects in Bo, Makeni and Kenema.
The Ministry of Water Resources is in the process of setting up of a National Water Resource Management Agency.
Funds have been secured from DFID (US $45M) for the rehabilitation of Guma Network.
1,266 Water Points constructed in Kambia, Bonthe, Kono, Pujehun and Koinadugu District under the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project.
316 Sanitation facilities completed in Kambia, Bonthe, Kono, Pujehun and Koinadugu District under the Rural Water and Sanitation Project
Construction of 49 solar powered boreholes and 63 Hand Dug Wells is ongoing in Kenema, Kailahun, Kono, Karene, Tonkolili Bombali and Kambia Districts. 90 percent of the work has been done and final evaluation will be done by the UAE Team in July 2018 and Commissioning will be done in August 2018.
The Ministry of Water Resources has embarked on promotion of rainwater harvesting systems in Kambia, Kono and Pujehun. Work is now 60% in completion and expected to be completed in July 2018.
The Ministry of Water Resources has embarked on the construction of 8 Boreholes in Kono, Kambia and Pujehun. Construction work is now 50% in completion. All boreholes have been drilled. Facilities are expected to be completed by August 2018.
The Ministry of Water Resources is engaged in the construction of 3 Spring Boxes in Kambia, Pujehun and Kono. The work is now 50% in completion. Facilities are expected to be completed by August 2018.
The Ministry of Water Resources is rehabilitating 1 Gravity Fed System in Kono. Construction work is now 50% to completion. Facility is expected to be completed by August 2018.
The Ministry of Water Resources engaged in the promotion of rainwater harvesting systems in Freetown. The construction work is now 50% to completion. Facilities will be completed by July 2018.
The Ministry of Water Resources embarked on installation of 40 potable water tanks in deprived communities in Freetown. The work is on-going and at 90% completion rate. It is expected to be completed by Mid-July 2018.
When the new Government assumed office, nine Water Bowsers were not in operation and the response was at a halt due to non-availability of funds. Now there are Four Operational Bowers and spares ordered from abroad to maintain the rest of the Bowsers. All Bowsers are expected to be operational by August 2018.
4,450,000 litres of water were delivered to various community tanks. 27 dormant tanks were re-activated. Community water supply is now delivered within schedule.
Source: Office of the press secretary Report on President Bio’s first 100 days in office