What is going on?

Dr. Sama Banya

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 July 2014

On Saturday July 12, I could not make any calls nor send any text message through one of my service providers until early afternoon.

As usual they provided no excuse for their failure, let alone offer apologies to users.

When I finally succeeded in making my first call, I was expecting the electronic machine to inform me as usual that my “call cost 2 units “, to be followed by further information on the balance of my credit.

So, I was momentarily taken aback when I saw that my call had cost “90” and that my balance was 14,216.74, a figure that I thought was out of this world. Then I saw the word Leones.

I was reminded that the Telecom Regulatory Authority (NATCOM) had issued a final ultimatum to mobile phone operators of the risk of losing their licenses, unless they stopped billing us their customers in United States dollars per second, rather than in Leones.

sierra leone post office freetownAgain the company had given no information that the new Leone billing system had taken effect.

As Twitter has pointed out in the Politico newspaper, what difference does it make, the high rate per call continues?

The Telephone companies are notorious for frying us in our own fat. They placate customers – although deceive would be a more appropriate word, with mouth watering promotional prizes.

They have convinced themselves that we are suckers and so they constantly take us on their joy rides.

Instead of the entire gimmick and the deceit, why would they not reduce their killer rates which would benefit every subscriber, rather than fool us with their mock offers?

These days we can’t even leave voice messages for our friends. The company tells us that the person we are trying to call was unavailable and to try again.

In any case, would NATCOM tell us of any special advantage in billing us in Leones, when the calculation is done in United States Dollars?

My Mende people would say: “The rope is round the goat’s neck or the goat is tethered to the rope”. But no matter the method, the fact still remains that the goat is in captivity.

What a joke!

 

Has the commercialization of agriculture failed Minister Sam?

I saw an advert in one of our newspapers last week, asking for tenders for the importation of rice.

What is the purpose of importing rice when according to Minister Sam Sesay (Photo) – our man in charge of Food Security, is all over the place with his monotonous propaganda of commercialized farming and its resultant increased agricultural production, and near self-sufficiency in our staple food rice?

Would the importer be favoured with a massive duty free concession and then allowed to sell the rice in competition with CTC, Bazzy and other rice importers?

Is this another meaning of the Agenda for Prosperity? I wonder.

 

Ebola and our Sierra Leone psyche

Sometimes I deceive myself in thinking that with my over three-score and ten years, I have seen most, if not all.

EBOLA-BILLBOARD-600-x-450In spite of all the warning and the increased surveillance and public awareness programmes about the deadly Ebola infection, which carries the very high mortality of 90 percent, people with suspected infection continue to flout publicized regulations, thus putting sometimes entire households at risk.

Two cases involving health workers would take some beating, in terms of reckless and irresponsible behaviour.

Why would a private medical clinic conceal an infected case?

Why would a health worker from Kenema allegedly walk into a government health institution and lie to his colleagues that he was in the capital to sit a professional examination, when as a matter of fact he was infected, or is suspected to be infected with the virus?

Having said that, I am equally concerned over the reported callous behaviour of some health workers towards patients and their families.

There was an incident in the Kissi Tongi chiefdom recently of an old woman who had lost a son from Ebola, being left out in the open for days, until she too perished and her corpse was left lying out there, until her family quietly removed her at night for burial.

 

The high dollar and runaway inflation

Our poor miserable Leone! Whoever told it that it would be a match for the mighty United States Dollar?

Since the end of last week, the US currency has jumped from its already record breaking high of four thousand and fifty Leones to four hundred and sixty plus this week, and probably ready to fly higher.

Whom do we ask for an explanation, Dr. Kelfala Marrah our man at the Finance Ministry?

With Bank Governor Sambadeen Sesay having been given the Red card and Momodu Kargbo – former deputy finance minister, having just gone through Parliamentary endorsement, we are in a dilemma.

Because the question being asked now is whether it was Mr. Sesay’s monetary policy that had kept the American giant in trim at four thousand and forty for such a long period.

I would like to advise my ‘Nephew’ the president, that an economy with the fastest growing GDP, whose benefit does not filter down to the man in the bush, or as Tam Baryoh was wont to say – to reach to his grandma’s cousin’s sister-in-law in Kainkodu, is merely a means of making the rich richer.

 

For Pete’s sake who has been molesting Okere Adams?

Okere Adams hails from an original SLPP family tree. His father – Pa Sampha Adams of Tonkolili was a founding father of the Torkoi party in 1951.

Okere who is an hotelier by profession, held two prestigious portfolios under former President Tejan-Kabbah.

Okere’s interest and enthusiasm in the SLPP party began to wane soon after our party lost power in 2007.

Whenever I teased him about it, he would reply with his infectious giggle that he was still active in the party, but would not say how.

I called late President Tejan-Kabbah’s attention to the behaviour of one of his favourite boys, and he replied that the young man had muted such an intention, but that he Pa Kabbah had talked him out of it.

political chameleonNow to read that Okere was going APC, comes as no surprise.

But he should not take us for fools, when he says he was leaving because he was being molested.

If he was around, I would ask; “When and by whom, since you don’t go near the party or its offices?” And it dates even to the period when John Benjamin was chairman and leader of the SLPP.

Go as you had planned Mr. Adams, but you’ll never deceive the likes of me.

 

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