Security forces in Sierra Leone open fire on protestors in Makeni

Sierra Leone telegraph: 18 July 2020:

There are disturbing reports coming from Makeni in the north of Sierra leone, where military personnel have fired teargas and live bullets at local people protesting against the government’s removal of an electricity power generator from the city to relocate to the town of Lungi. (WARNING – Some readers may find some of the images below disturbing.)

According to eyewitnesses, at least one person has been shot dead.

This shooting comes just weeks after the resident minister for the region – Abu Abu openly threatened to shoot anyone in the northern town of Lunsar where youths went on the rampage after a dispute with the local paramount chief.

The removal of electricity generators from one part of the country by the current government to meet the needs of other parts –  is becoming all too familiar and worrying.

One report this afternoon says: “Running battles continue in the Northern City of Makeni between irate youths protesting the removal of a 1MW Caterpillar generator by the Electricity Generating and Transmission Company (EGTC) and police firing gun shots and canister tear gas.

“It all started last night when news broke around the city that a team had arrived at the powerhouse to remove the said generator to Lungi. EGTC official said they had had prior consultations with local authorities regards the said movement of the generator.

“As the situation escalate there is report of some youths fired at with fire rounds. The ruling party office on Yiks Road in Makeni is reported damaged by irate youths.”

Another report says “As violent continues to spread in makeni, military support units from Daru, Pehbu in Kabala, Wilberforce and other areas have been called up to support those in Tecko who have been completely overwhelmed. The president wants law and order restored immediately.  The machine is still going to be moved because it is something that had been pre arranged.  A 24 hour curfew has been contemplated for makeni and full military patrol instructed.  Some arrests have been made.”

“There are serious disturbances in the city of Makeni. The genesis of this issues came from an electricity substitution issue.  Since Lungi is experiencing a shortage of electricity, the authorities says it will be wise to transfer a mini power plant from makeni to Lungi temporarily, since makeni is currently enjoying electricity from the Bumbuna hydro.  In response, the Makeni people refused – arguing that when the rains cease, Bumbuna output will drop and they will have no backup plant.  Riot broke out and a lot of vandalism.  The SLPP office is reportedly destroyed.  Military officers from Daru and Peehbu barracks in Kabala sent in and all hell has broken loose, ” says another report.

A report believed to be from the ministry of energy reads:

“The Ministry of Energy is perturbed by reports of violent skirmishes in Makeni over an attempt by authorities to relocate a standby 1.65MW Caterpillar engine from Makeni to Lungi for the supply of electricity to Lungi. The Ministry of Energy roundly condemns this unlawful behavior from some ill-motivated youths in Makeni.

“The ministry wishes to make it abundantly clear that Lungi is currently in dire need of electricity ,and with the resumption of flight operations at anytime from now,there would be more compelling need for electricity.The relocation of the standby thermal plant  from Makeni to Lungi is therefore only a stop-gap measure for Lungi until such a time when the 3X2 MW Man engines at Lungi were fully repaired.

“The ministry would further  like to assure all that Government has made concrete arrangements for the quick repairs of the engines, and with the Airport resuming operations ,the expert engineers and the necessary spare parts would arrive in the country for work to start  .

“The ministry states for the avoidance of doubts that it held consultative meetings with stakeholders in Makeni,including but not limited to the Mayor and her Deputy, the Provincial Secretary North, Representatives of the AIG , Media Groups and Civil Society Groups. The issue of the relocation of the thermal plant was clearly presented and discussed in those stakeholders’ meetings . Government further assured all the stakeholders that despite the relocation ,Makeni would continue to enjoy uninterrupted supply of power from the Shield Wire Arrangement along the 161kv Line from the Bumbuna Hydroelectric Station.

“In view of the above , the ministry would like to state its lawful determination to relocate the thermal plant to Lungi in line with the outcome of a series of consultations ,while also assuring the people of Makeni of its commitment to providing uninterrupted power supply for the city .

“Once more, the ministry totally condemns the violent protests that erupted in the town and urge the security apparatus to take all necessary steps to restore order, to deal with those responsible for the illegal protests within the confines of the law and to protect state property.”

Calling for peace in Makeni, Mahmud Tim Kargbo – a social policy commentator said:  “I have always had the utmost respect for our law enforcement team, and am asking them to be professional enough in protecting lives and property in the current unrest in Makeni.

“They’re trained diligently to understand how, when and where to use force. Current shocking tragedy of social media images showing dead bodies and injuries inflicted against civilians clearly crossed that line.

“It is not unusual to face disruption from unemployed and bitter youth which can occur for many reasons, but we expect our law enforcement team to handle the situation professionally. We know our law enforcement forces have comprehensive plans in response to violence coming from irate youth across their network that cover contingencies – including youth that  want to take the law into their own hands, and how to use proportionate force to enforce peace in a specific town, area, district, or region where such youth overstep the mark. I consider this planning part of our law enforcement team’s core operating model.

“In conclusion, I am also calling on the youth to be law abiding and avoid all situations that will make them come in brush with the law. Our law enforcement team must manage their response to the present unrest in Makeni and at all cost minimise negative impact on property and life.”

8 Comments

  1. Many thanks to my brother from another mother,the ‘Illustrious’ Mr Alimamy Turay and our big brother Abdul Thomas for their heartfelt timely response that just might have saved someone from being incinerated to splinters and ashes like fiercely burning wood on this glorious forum.(lol)When a roaring merciless Lion is confronted by a wimpy whiskerless cat it hastily zips away, already fully aware of the feeling of disgust it may have to experience after tainting its majestic claws with the rancid putrid,sickening entrails of its faint-hearted prey.Are you answered SLPP Amos?

  2. Where is the lifetime chairman of the APC party? Is he still living in Makeni City? Fake News from the Serial “Mammy Cusser” which is full of incitement has a stronghold in our beloved country as was evident in Lunsar, Tombo, and around the nation. May the Almighty continue to guide our youths that are used as collateral and the pawns in this political chess game, while most of the top politicians and their families are living in their bunkers, and most of us hiding behind our computers are not helping the situation.

    The government has the responsibility to maintain law and order and they have to do whatever it takes to restore peace. May the Almighty continue to bless Mama Salone.

  3. Its obvious that the paopa boys and girls running our mismanagement could have averted all this with proper planning and forward thinking. Its no magic to conclude that most had spent the lock-down period massaging their new SUVs, discussing who will attend the next donor conference and what could each take-away from resources under their control. As important as the airport is, was there any forwarding planning about its needs. Had Bio done his assignment (the reason he’s being lavishly paid) the Makeni incident would have not occurred.

    A good leader reads the political temperature to avert or forestall such incidences. Wrong that the youths took the law into their hands, very wrong, but paopas communication strategy is extremely poor and its leader is probably the most laid-back president of my generation. Was the generator relocation a sporadic decision or a well thoughtout plan? When did the chief minister know about Lungi’s electricity need? And who knew what about the lungi electricity need and when? These guys think speaking grammar is all what we need, but they’re surely clueless about governance.

  4. I don’t need to read the entire article or watch the accompanying video to categorically declare that the security of our nation is sorely being tested. I don’t know how long it will stretch before it snaps. But there’s one man who can put an end to all the violence: President Julius Maada Bio. He has the levers of power in his hand. Why does he refuse to use them, especially considering the fact that all those associated with the violence have been linked to his SLPP party? There was “arata “, who has gone quiet lately. In Kono, Mamadi Baghdad surfaced at the funeral for the uncle of former Vice President Sam Summana; he couldn’t think of a better time. And now we have Makani. This time our recognised security forces were involved, causing a loss of lives. The most frightening thing about it is the possibility that it may well be described as a regional confrontation. This is how civil conflicts commence and slip out of control. Have we already forgotten the rebel war so soon?

    A reminder: Undoubtedly those killed in Makeni didn’t involve a single son of the top politicians, it’s about time for ordinary people to come to their senses and stop staking their lives for our obnoxious politicians. If they don’t like something they should bite their lips and bide their time till the next election to express their anger through the ballot box.

    For as long as we keep having either APC or SLPP in power we shall never see complete peace in our country. With all the violence that is now taking place, who can honestly and confidently tell me that a future APC government won’t be out for unmitigated revenge? Only if we bench both of them can we be assured of peace. We the voters are like the football manager who fields the same unproductive team all the time and we mourn and moan when they lose. Where’s our intelligence?

  5. Why are people so lawless? Do you have to die because of politics? Though SAD! yet the APC cabals should be held responsible for inciting violence and lawlessness in the country. What is wrong if authorities want to relocate generator to boost electricity at the airport which is the gateway to the country? The same politicians will want to use this event for political score….SO SAD!!

    • Why couldn’t authorities build a new power source for the Lungi Airport and just leave the Makeni generator where it was?

  6. Africa is about to add the 11th top dictator and war Lord to its list. Let the world judge who the next to be added on that list is. Surprisingly, they all have the same facial composition if you use facial graphics to scan their faces. There is one current President who has all the credentials to be added to that list. Do the computer graphics and you get the answer. Click on the link below and read.
    https://www.thesouthafrican.com/news/africas-top-10-dictators-and-warlords-body-count-included/
    Interesting EH?
    God bless and protect Makeni. TBC.

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