Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 November 2018:
Sierra Leone’s Inspector General of Police – Dr. Richard Moigbe, last Thursday made a public statement warning those planning to organise street parades, carnivals and masquerades this Christmas to think again, in a bid to clamp down on lawlessness, public nuisance, violence and robbery.
Every year in the run-up to and including Christmas Day and Boxing Day, dozens of people are taken to hospital for stab wounds and other injuries sustained in gang violence – fuelled by drugs and alcohol, especially in the capital Freetown. But the Inspector General of Police now says that enough is enough.
“With election in Sierra Leone held just seven months ago, political wounds are yet to heal and there are fears also that some disgruntled politicians may want to use street carnivals as political rallies, which could flare into widespread violence,” a politician in Freetown told the Sierra Leone Telegraph.
In his statement, Inspector General of Police – Dr. Richard Moigbe said: “The Sierra Leone Police wishes to assure the general public about its readiness to ensure that the festive season is observed in peace, safety and security. This cannot, however, be achieved without the cooperation of all and sundry.
“In order to guarantee the peace, public safety and security of our communities, the Sierra Leone Police would like to make known the following for the general public to comply with from now henceforth:
“1. It is unlawful for any person or group of persons to sound or play loud music or noisy instrument or shout, sing or make any other loud noise after 10:00 p.m. in communities to the annoyance or disturbance of others (Sec. 13 of the Public Order Act of 1965).
“2. It is unlawful for any person or group of persons to engage in any STREET PROCESSION OR STREET CARNIVAL without the written permission of the Inspector General of Police (Sec. 14 of the Public Order Act of 1965).
“3. It is unlawful for any person to fire any gun or throw any firework, rocket or missile to the injury or annoyance of others (Sec. 6 of the Public Order Act of 1965).
“4. Saloon Bars are reminded that their official hour of closing is 11:00 p.m. (Sec. 27 of Cap 238 of the Liquor Licensing Ordinance). The Police would be obliged to enforce this closing hour WHERE THERE IS REASONABLE GROUND TO BELIEVE that the bar’s operation is an annoyance to others within the community.
“5. It is unlawful for anyone to drive whilst drunk or under the influence of alcohol (Sec. 102 of the Road traffic Act of 2007).
“6. It is unlawful for anyone to drive an unregistered vehicle (Sec. 5 of the Road Traffic Act of 2007).
Vehicles with valid G-Plates or Temporal Vehicle Registration (TVR) should not ply the roads after 6:00 p.m. on all days.
“It should be noted that any violation of these provisions would be investigated and prosecuted. The entire Police force is under strict instruction to enforce compliance. You have been warned.
“Be informed that the SLP has put a moratorium on all street carnivals until further notice. It presupposes that any application received by the Inspector General in respect of street carnival would not be approved.”
Quiet though this year’s Christmas may be, the fact is that it will be a difficult festive season for many households, as prices of foods and other essentials continue to rise.
Sierra Leone’s economy is in dire straits, with inflation running at over 30% and the country’s currency – the Leone having lost more than 10% its value in the last six months.
Government revenue is facing a huge squeeze, after the IMF decided to stop payment of over $200 million to the government of former president Koroma, because of corruption and mismanagement.
Foreign aid has been reduced by over 40% and the mining industry – the largest earner of export revenue in the country, has shut down production, as Chinese investors pull out.
Many in Sierra Leone are calling on the government to get tough on the management of the Freetown Water Quay Dock, where most goods imported to the country are received, to reduce the cost of clearance which they say is contributing to the economic hardship facing the country.
There is little sign of the very high unemployment rate – over 70% inherited by the Bio led SLPP government, going down anytime soon.
Investments in the country’s industries remain at an all-time low, after the previous government led by president Ernest Bai Koroma failed to diversify the economy and encourage sustainable investment in potential growth sectors.
After seven months in power, the newly elected government is yet to hit the ground running to get the economy back on its feet.
Sierra Leone needs over $500 million investment in key sectors such as fisheries, forestry, agro-processing, tourism, and a massive house building programme, if it is to create the number of jobs needed to reduce poverty.
Until then, crime, alcoholism, drug abuse and gang violence will continue to keep the police busy, though not this Christmas, if Inspector General of Police – Dr. Richard Moigbe should have his way.