Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 July 2017
The battle for leadership and control of the affairs of Sierra Leone’s capital city Freetown has not yet started, but already there are at least three candidates that have appeared in the frame – all from the ruling APC party.
Freetown has had its fair share of the misfortune of being governed by incompetent and corrupt mayors, whose only passion it seems was to get rich from dodgy public procurement contracts and the misappropriation of public funds.
The city has a population of over two million people, the majority of whom are living in abject poverty, with at least 60% residing in what can be described as slums – makeshift homes that are unfit for human habitation.
Poor sanitation, lack of access to regular supply of clean drinking water, notoriously intermittent electricity supply – especially in the east of the capital where people live in darkness for weeks without electricity, are being compounded by the lack of job opportunities.
Over 80% of youths in Freetown are out of work – chronically unemployed and unskilled.
Most people who work in Freetown are employed in the public sector. The rest are either petty traders or labourers, eking out their daily livelihood on a meagre income of $1.50 cents.
There is no denying the fact that there is a lot the Freetown City Council can do to make life worth living for the average citizen, including the promotion and supporting of job creation initiatives in partnership with the private sector; the development and provision of low-budget homes for rental; the better management of road traffic in collaboration with the police; improved management of domestic waste and sanitation; better management of local tax collection and effective budget spending; and the creation of a city that is fit to live, work, rest and leisure.
But this will require strong and capable leadership from the Mayor – who is head of the city’s governing council.
One of the candidates vying for the mayorship is Mr. Prince Harold Thorpe, a staunch member of the ruling APC.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph caught up with Harold to ask about his aspiration to become the mayor of Freetown when elections are held next year. He was asked these simple questions:
Who is Prince Thorpe? Why do you want to become the mayor of Freetown? What do you see as the key priorities and problems facing the city? How do you think you can solve these problems if elected? What difference do you hope to make to the lives of people in Freetown? And what chance do you think you have of winning the mayoral election?
This is what he told the Sierra Leone Telegraph:
My name is Prince Harold Thorpe, a 31-year-old energetic and passionate man, who truly believes that better is always possible. I’m a youth advocate with six years of experience.
I am a Project Manager with an Oil and Gas company, a graduate with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, Project management Professional Designation, Canadian Risk Management Designation and Business Analysis Designation.
I am a happily married man to the love of my life Patty who is a Nurse. My story begins in Freetown. I am aroused by Faith, motivated by Faith, and by the belief that the best is yet to come for Freetown.
My strong interest in civic issues, community life and urban development, as well as a concern that people with talent were leaving Freetown, are some of the reasons why I made the decision to run for Mayor.
I have the vision. I have made the decision and my God is making the provision for it to happen.
My key priorities as Mayor of Freetown City Council are to build affordable housing, focus on developing the economy and small business development, taxation, environment, education and innovation.
But in order for better to be possible, we must refocus, reorganize and restructure to get what we want.
Where we are right now is the beginning of greatness. I, Prince Thorpe want to be the engine that will drive our city forward.
A city like Freetown needs the innovative ideas, the energy and passion from an able youth like myself.
My vision for the city of Freetown is to transform it into a great place to live and work.
I am going to do more with less resources, by assessing and managing our spending rigorously, by exploring beneficial partnership, introducing smart investment and accountability, helping our city embrace technology, and by creating a culture of inclusiveness.
I take full responsibility for our city’s current challenges and that is why I want to help solve them. Most of the people living in Freetown already know these challenges. I think it is time we focus on the solutions rather than pointing fingers. If better was not possible, I wouldn’t say I would do it.
I am one hundred percent sure that I will win the next Mayoral election because I am competent and knowledgeable. I have the needed experience, and the backing of the youths.
My hope is to inspire like-minded young people to step up and pitch in, to get involved in the public life of our country and to know that a positive, optimistic and hopeful vision of public life is not a naive dream. It can be a powerful force for change, which will create entrepreneurship and innovation.
Let me conclude by asking your readers to support my strides to become the Mayor of Freetown City Council. I have enormous courage to take up and efficiently execute the duties of Mayor of Freetown City Council.
I have a clear vision and a plan for real positive change that Freetonians are hoping for. Together, we can make our city a better place in which to live, work and play.