Freetown City Councillors request immediate intervention from international community

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 01 August 2021:

Elected councillors of the Freetown City Council have written a letter to the international community in the country, who are responsible for bankrolling the government every year through aid amounting to over $300 million.

They are calling for the immediate intervention of the international community in a dispute between the ministry of local government and the council, over what they describe as the appalling behaviour of the council’s chief administrator – Festus Kallay who is accused by the councillors of dereliction of duty, insubordination, and sabotage.

Two weeks ago, the councillors wrote to the minister of local government demanding the removal and replacement of the chief administrator, whose presence in the council the councillors said is no longer tolerable.

In response, the local government minister said he will investigate the councillors’ complaint instread of taking action to remove the unelected administrator.

But the councillors say that this is a political tactic by the minister aimed at frustrating and crippling the good work of the mayor and the council.

So, they have written a letter to the British High Commissioner, the Irish Ambassador, the European Union Head of Delegation, the American Ambassador, and the German Ambassador. The letter was also sent to the vice president of Sierra Leone – Dr Juldeh Jalloh, and the chairman of the parliamentary committee for local government for urgent action.

This is what the letter says: 

“We bring you warm felicitations and write to ask for your immediate intervention on the below subject matter, with a view to ameliorating a deteriorating situation.

“Sir, you may have noticed the news and information being shared in the local media about ongoing tensions within the Freetown City Council. We, the undersigned Councillors would like to formally bring to your attention that the actions of Chief Administrator of the Council has been stifling, derailing and unnecessarily impeding development and progress for the municipality. Since we took up office as elected leaders of the municipality, the Chief Administrator, with acquiescence from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has been acting in ways that seek to frustrate, malign and deter our efforts to serve our constituents diligently and efficiently.

“As Councillors, we strongly believe in the rule of law and due process. As such, we wrote to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, as the supervising Ministry, requesting them to intervene by transferring the belligerent Chief Administrator to another department or agency.

“This request is also in line with our functions as provided for by the Local Government Act 2004 (as amended). We are however saddened to inform you, that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development serving as the supervisory Ministry have deliberately refused to act on our request. In fact, their response to our letter suggests support for the Chief Administrator’s insubordination and unprofessional behaviour.

“We are therefore constrained in the options available to us, to address this stalemate. We no longer have confidence in working with the Chief Administrator. We cannot continue to entrust the administrative functions to an individual who has repeatedly demonstrated acts of sabotage, gross misconduct and who by all intent and purpose is determined to undermine the development achievements we are making as elected representatives of voters in the city.

“It is against this backdrop that we feel compelled to ask for your immediate intervention as one of our country’s international development partners and moral guarantors, in a bid to avoid any further rancour between the political and administrative wings of the institution. We have also attached, for your ease of reference, our complaints and request to the Minister of Local Government.

“We thank you in advance for your anticipated intervention and hope that your involvement into this matter will help resolve it for the good of Freetown and its residents.”

What many in the capital Freetown find truly perplexing about the refusal of the minister of local government to accede to the request of the elected councillors, is the fact that the minister’s intransigence and belligerence totally disregard the overwhelming documentary evidence of sabotage and insubordination by the Chief Administrator of the council – Festus Kallay, as far back as 2018.

So far there has been no response from the international community in the country, who are funding most of the council-run projects that the government is accusing the mayor and councillors of mismanaging.

But what is evidently clear, is that should this impasse continue, come November this year, the council may be paralysed because of uncollected rates and taxes, which could put at risk the millions of dollars the UK government and others have invested in the city to improve the lives of people.

4 Comments

  1. The ministry of local government is the supervisory ministry. Elected officials asked for an unelected administrator who has served the council for over 10 years (three mayor’s), and the supervisory minister says that he will investigate. Is that not how things should go? Is it wrong for the ministry of local government to hear the other side of the story especially when it hinges on the life and right to work and employment of a citizen of the country?

  2. Let’s put the record straight before talking the talk. Sierra Leone has become what I could describe as a country of “Falamakata Politics”. The row between our hardworking mayors and the governments of the day is not new. Did everyone remember what happened between Mayor Sam Franklyn Gibson and the APC administration during the Ebola crisis? Now, we have another row between Mayor Yvonne Aki sawyer and the Bio administration during another crisis. Such attitudes by our leaders and government ministers on the Mayors of Freetown is wrong and unacceptable. It’s all politics to their advantage. How long should Sierra Leone continue like this? Look at the most recent flooding that should unite all Sierra Leoneans and do our best to help. But, we continue fighting each other to win the next elections. Is that fair to our people?

    Climate change is hammering our world, and there is disaster and destruction all over the place. If nature could almost put Germany, a prosperous country with modern technology, on its knees, what can Sierra Leone do without external help? Technology should now be at the forefront of this destruction happening in the country every year. President Bio established the Department of Science, Technology and innovation. Thank you very much, President Bio. This department is a significant step forward to help with IT solutions for e-administration, e-government, e-management etc. They should also engage in high-tech assembling of smart or intelligent systems to take care of the flooding, mudslides, drainage, garbage systems, battering our country and killing our people every year. But, they have not yet engaged in building or assembling smart/intelligent systems.

    However, they can use primitive early warning systems that could warn citizens of the imminent danger of flood if they don’t have experts in Smart Technology. Mobile phones are everywhere in Sierra Leone. Why not make use of them for early warning signals/alerts and save lives? I am in constant contact with very few Sierra Leoneans who know about this technology for information. Some of them told me that they would come home at some point to help. Sounds great. Should the DSTI start proving their worth to President Bio? The best of the best are on their way to becoming directors and engineers at the DSTI. God bless our people. “Den day na road”.

  3. This is clearly a climate emergency that is now upon us. The fury of nature is a direct consequence of human activity. When we say climate change, and its consequences to our every day lives,this is it. And it cannot be ingnored anymore. Denying all the evidence in front of us, like the constant flooding we are experiencing in Freetown, and choosing to bury our heads in the sand and wishing the problem away, is like we are storing more problems for the future. The failure of Bio to take seriously and address some of the contributory factors that is causing us this floodings in Freetown, cannot be overlooked. His government should stop playing chickens with our elected Mayor of Freetown, Akin Swayer, instead bang heads together,with ploicy experts, stakeholders, communities affected, and come up with workable solutions to address this reoccurring problem.

    One of the ways of doing it, is to ask the difficult questions. Why are after the RUF wars the government failed to make it a priority to help relocate the internally displaced people “IDPs” that have taken refuge in the city of Freetown, which at the time feels like is the only safe place in the whole of Sierra Leone. A lot will want to go back in their team town and village but don’t have the means to do so. The next urgent question that the Bio government has to tackle is the Timber trade. The cutting down of the trees, and exposing the Freetown peninsula that have been protected by this tropical rain forests for the pasts hundreds years, should inject a sense of emergency to any serious government that want to address this issue. The problem we are faced with, the Bio government is interested in fighting local politics than fighting the real issues affecting people’s lives. Otherwise his government should be working hand in glove with our elected Mayor.

    Come up with a funding formula for the city Council, and letting the Mayor raise local taxes to fund some of her projects she identified that will make the city of Freetown more like Morden city with all the characteristics that goes with it, good paved roads, working traffice lights, mobile refuse collection trucks, twenty four hours electricity, pedestrian walk ways, City parks and benches where possible, a drainage system that is in working order, will go a long way stop some of the calamities that is becoming an every life experience for residents of this great city.

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