The Sierra Leone Bicentenary Trust

Registered Charity No: 700447 England

ACHIEVEMENTS IN SIERRA LEONE

by Ronald Andrew Lisk-Carew
MONDAY, 15 JUNE 2009

In the words of Elbert Hubbard "All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing." Therefore we should publicise positive news; be grateful for and defend the efforts of hard-working public servants who do critical jobs for the nation, not just criticise the failures.

Our spectacular Cotton Tree is still thriving splendidly.

At last one can see things are beginning to improve in Sierra Leone. It would have been quite something to be able to enjoy the start of the promised electricity supply from the Bumbuna Hydro-Electric Project in April 2009 as promised. Nevertheless, there was a vast improvement in electricity supply in some areas of Freetown, the sort of "determined government attention" I constructively highlighted in my 2004 article. Some progress has taken place since my last write-up then about my experience in Sierra Leone, in 2004. The Bumbuna project should have a positive impact on the country. Theoretically, it should mean reduced spending on expensive imported fuel for generators if the savings is used to help drive the economy forward, stimulate development and improve living standards. All we need is the political will, good leadership and management.

I am familiar with the many problems faced by Sierra Leoneans but there's some positive stuff on the horizon to give us hope for the future. I saw some changes but there is still a lot to do to change the negative cultures, attitudes and behaviours. For example, some public employees criminally ask for bribes to carry out their public duties and/or to bypass laws and regulations.

I was particularly impressed by the progress pertaining to the issue of corruption in high places. I hope the feeling that government, especially through the effective approach to bolster the Anti-Corruption Commission is successful. Any new initiative to tackle entrenched institutional corruption must be good. I particularly like the idea of Target Setting and performance targets for ministers, as well as the declaration of assets by all public officials. The same tough approach might work for other sectors of concern to the community.

One of the best, exciting, fantastic development I saw was the eye-catching refurbished Clock Tower. This positively gives a sense of hope. It brought back fond memories of my childhood since it is still located near my Mountain Cut home and Holly Trinity Church and primary school. At the same time, disturbed and put off by too much street trading in the vicinity.

Newly Renovated Clock Tower at 'Eastern Police'.

There were several adverse and worrying comments concerning the judiciary and police. To many, there are major concerns about the judiciary and police who are perceived as being unethical, inefficient and unprofessional despite recent effort by some in this sector to improve the image and culture of these professions. At street level, the police are said to be unreliable, incompetent and corrupt. They need to be better trained and supervised. The Government need to do something about these serious concerns through bold, clear action and determination if criminal acts, lawlessness and anarchy are to be discouraged. Monitoring and promoting judicial integrity is crucial. It will reassure the public; ensure confidence in the police service and restore the tarnished reputation of the judiciary, ensuring peace and development.

There are still many issues for government to focus on and pursue, like road blockages, traffic congestions, the incredible uncontrolled destruction of our beautiful mountains and hills; the need for action against people who deliberately squat irreverently and so desecrate cemeteries are of paramount importance. Many traditional residential neighbourhoods are being downgraded to commercial areas to the extent that these areas are increasingly uglycised. This is a key challenge for the City Council. The proactive strides on the electricity front has raised hopes for many citizens saying they are convinced President Ernest Koroma's government need to be given a chance to address the many challenges they inherited.

In terms of the global economic crisis, there was a worry that not enough is being done proactively by government to alleviate the financial burden or reduce the impact on the population, especially the most vulnerable communities who suffer desperately from high prices of goods and services. Targeted strategies to stimulate the economy are needed to mitigate the tough symptoms for all struggling citizens.

Overall, my visit was wonderfully warming not just from the sumptuous sunshine. I had a fantastic, brilliant and lovely time predominantly. Slowly, I am working on my projects. Therefore, I am so looking forward to my next visit.

Sierra Leone is an exciting place to visit at the moment and so far, the Ernest Koroma government deserve a pat on the back. It was good to see 'cats eyes' road studs on some roads again; the newly constructed Freetown City Council Administrative Building at Wallace Johnson Street; FCC Waste Management vehicles and a few visible public dustbins also.

However, unfortunately, there is no organised house to house collection of refuse. There is a need for modern motor vehicles with hydraulic tipping mechanism for house to house collection of refuse and for public closets and urinals. Government must create public sector jobs; do more to encourage and support job creation by the private sector and address the issue of homelessness. Government should build affordable social housing to help move people from slum dwellings and so improve the quality of life of the nation.

My experience of visiting Sierra Leone over the last five (5) years tells me clearly, that with true leadership and if effective targeted action is taken to tackle the other significant problems, vis-à-vis THE ENVIRONMENT and HEALTH SERVICES, WATER, EMPLOYMENT, HOUSING, and TRANSPORTATION, especially proper management of our human, material and financial resources, SaLone will be a great place to live in the future. I feel and can confirm that many Sierra Leoneans I heard are more hopeful now and so I can see a bright future for our beloved Sierra Leone.

In short, corruption still plagues the country, needing political courage and strong government. As mentioned above, I saw some progress in Sierra Leone this year. No doubt there is a lot of work to be done to improve Freetown but if the present Mayor Herbert George A. Williams keeps up his enthusiasm and if he is truly dedicated, we will all enjoy a beautiful Freetown once more, DV.

OPINION

After careful thought and consultation that "silence can mean consent", it has been agreed that we should respond to Dr Blyden's recent article "Cassandra Garber recklessly exposes Krios to danger in Sierra Leone! By Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden (A Krio)" AWARENESS TIMES, Sierra Leone News & Information, Jun 28, 2007.

Why should we Krios of Sierra Leone continue to suffer in silence? Or would Dr Blyden et al prefer the Krios to sit back or just die? Thank God for people of integrity like Mama Garber who have the courage to speak out, without fear or favour, affection or ill will. Mama Garber reminds me of, e.g., the late Dr Martin Luther King Jr. At the time when it was fashionable to be 'popular' and a far greater more dangerous time in the U.S.A., his clergy colleagues and others said he was irresponsible and putting his people at risk.

Our vote is 100% for Mama Garber to who we say thank you and remember, you are not going to be loved by everyone, even those you are fighting for. That's life.

"For evil to succeed, it's for good people to sit down and do nothing." Lonta

Ronald A. Lisk-Carew
Chair
Sierra Leone Bicentenary Trust
Registered Charity No. 700447 England