Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 November 2016
The streets of Freetown and other major towns and cities across Sierra Leone remain tense, as the people of Sierra Leone react to the government’s announcement last week to remove the subsidy that has for several years, helped to cushion the poor from the high cost of petrol.
Without cheap petrol Sierra Leone will soon grind to a halt, with unpredictable political and social consequences.
But it seems in announcing the massive price increases in petrol, the Koroma government has factored in, the possible use of armed response to quell any mass peaceful demonstrations that are being planned in the coming weeks – if not days.
Weeks before the government’s announcement, international aid agencies reported that Sierra leone is facing catastrophic levels of hunger as the country’s econony and agriculture collapse under the weight of corruption and mismanagement.
Immediately after the petrol price rises last week, there were calls on social media for massive street protests. But those calls are yet to be heeded, as the effect of the price rises work its way through the economy and pockets of citizens.
It is expected that with the doubling of the prices of petrol, kerosene, diesel and fuel oil at the pump, the costs of transportation, basic household necessities and foods will rise exponentially, especially as Christmas approaches.
Yesterday, Sierra Leone’s presidential hopeful and popular opposition leader – Alie Kabba, one of the few – if not the only opposition leader to criticise the government’s announcement, published a statement strongly condemning the price rises and its effects on the poor. This is what he says.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans
The recent abrupt elimination of fuel subsidies by the APC government and its cascading killer effects, poses a very serious threat to the livelihood of ordinary citizens and dangerously toys with the very stability of the state.
Once again we find ourselves firmly locked in the grips of another undoubtedly disastrous stretch of man-made catastrophes that our country neither desires nor in anyway deserves.
The current episode represents yet another grim example of how the deceptive policies and fraudulent pastimes of our thoroughly corrupt and terribly greedy political class, would always lead to disaster for the 99% of suffering Sierra Leoneans.
Nothing can justify the reckless mismanagement and outright corruption that are weighing us down as a nation, and constantly pushing the ruling class into a senseless scramble to grip the last straw that comes to hand.
The IMF and the World Bank are institutions that were set up at the end of the Second World War to help rebuild a war-ravaged Europe. In spite of its very controversial reputation, which has seen it variously described as “harsh” and “hellish”, the IMF has become the last port of call for those African leaders seeking loan and financial relief in the wake of disastrous handling of their national economies.
Obviously, a doctor who provides a dangling rope as part of the prescribed medication for a suicidal maniac, might be viewed as cruelly cynical, but may end up pleading “not guilty” to the allegation of deliberately speeding up the inevitable.
The fact of the matter is that the IMF does not force a nation to swallow their bitter pill.
If you don’t soak your own gown in gasoline, no one will light your torso to the grave. The IMF may be a “death trap” designed to impoverish African countries, but our “leaders” voluntarily run to the institution for a decongestant after they have mindlessly swallowed every morsel of their national cakes.
When they are given what may look like a cure, they simply go on to abuse it and end up suffocating their countries with poisoned pills.
As the APC government begins to implement its “prosperity-to-austerity” measures, the fact that the poor masses who drank nothing from the State House milk are the ones being fed the killer poison, is bad enough.
Worse still is the fact that this unfolding calamity could have been avoided, if only we had real patriots in power, that are willing to use the nation’s resources for the greater good of all the people.
To avoid the cyclical circus of running to outside institutions for a punishing “helping hand” each time we stumble and fall, we should come together as a country to change the entire system for good.
I am proud to be a part of the growing number of selfless patriots who are searching for a new hopeful dawn that will lift our country up and take us out of the meaningless game of musical chairs in which politicians come and go, but the country stays stuck in the same mess!
Our people are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We have had enough needless suffering and injustice in the nation.
It is time for real change!
Your humble servant,