By Ragan M. Conteh
As Zoodlab and Sentinel the companies that replaced the Sierra Leone Cable Limited (SALCAB) and Sierratel has commenced work in earnest without the approval of Parliament, the Leader of Opposition, Hon Chernor Maju Bah has on Tuesday, 6 April 2022 demanded that the Zoodlab Contract be brought to the Well of Parliament for debate.
According to MP Maju Bah, Parliament is yet to preview any document depicting the takeover of any company dealing with the fibre optic cable, not even Zoodlab, through the Ministry of Information and Communications, laid on the table of Parliament justifying that SALCAB is finally gone and has been replaced by Zoodlab.
He said it has been six to seven months now since Zoodlab started operations on the fibre optic cable without any contractual agreement. Hon Bah viewed such action by Zoodlab Company as a contravention of the laws of Sierra Leone, adding that it is mandatory for the Minister of Information and Communications to bring the agreement documents to the Well for parliamentary debate and approval.
The Opposition Leader reminded the company and minister of Section 5b of the Constitution of Sierra Leone which talks about the welfare and security of the people of Sierra Leone.
Hon Maju Bah also lampooned the government of President Julius Maada Bio for selling Sierratel without parliamentary knowledge, viewing such an action by the SLPP government as compromising the welfare and security of the people of Sierra Leone ‘by selling a state communication company to private companies’.
He therefore demanded the authority concerned to involve Parliament in the preparation of the agreement documents before bringing them to Parliament for enactment.
Acting on the demands of the Leader of the Opposition, the Speaker of Parliament, Hon Chernor Abass Bundu ordered the Committee on Information and Communications to investigate the Zoodlab and Sierratel agreements and report to Parliament.
The Deputy Leader of Government, Hon Bashiru Silikie has also guaranteed that once the agreement is done, authorities will bring the documents to Parliament for approval.
In a related development, the Leader of the Opposition has also frowned on the pace at which the Peninsula Forest is being misused by unknown persons.
According to the Leader, day in day out the Peninsula Forest in being burned down, adding: ‘It seems as if forest rangers assigned to protect the forest are the ones depleting the forest because they are not preventing encroachers.’
MP Maju Bah said a lot of resources have been disbursed to pay forest rangers, whose mandate is to ensure that the forest reserve is protected including preventing encroachers.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Leader of Government, MP Bashiru Silikie has also assured the Leader of the Opposition that the Committees on Environment and Land in collaboration with the Leaders of Parliament will pay a visit to the Peninsula Forest to ascertain firsthand information for action.
New IMC chairman visits Information Minister
By Hawa Deen
The newly appointed Chairman of the Independent Media Commission (IMC) and other new commissioners have met with the Minister of Information and Communications, Mr. Mohamed Rahman Swaray, at his Youyi Building Office, today, 6th April 2022.
Speaking to the Minister after he was introduced by the Director of Information Mr Emmanuel AB Turay, the new IMC Chairman, Dr. Victor Massaquoi thanked the Minister for giving them audience.
Dr. Massaquoi continued to say that he is determined to bring changes and reforms that would transform the commission into a more structured and effective institution, promising to improve on the work left by his predecessor. He also spoke about the present condition of the Commission’s office, citing issues of limited parking space and a noisy environment, which he said is making work difficult for the commissioners. He revealed that he is now working on plans to move to a new office.
In his response, the Minister said that he is pleased to formerly meet the new Chairman and other Commissioners of the commission for the first time after their appointments, saying that the Government of President Julius Maada Bio is always committed to ensuring that the media is promoted with all seriousness.
He disclosed that, in the coming weeks, there would be a media investment conference, geared towards looking at the challenges and opportunities in the media sector and wished them all the best in their work.
Chinese Amb. hands over 10 SUV vehicles & 2 minibuses
The Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, H.E. Hu Zhangliang, has handed over 10 SUV vehicles and 2 minibuses donated by the government of People’s Republic of China to the government of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
This batch of donation is not only a vivid demonstration of the continuous development of China-Sierra Leone friendship and cooperation but also one of the concrete steps taken by China to support Sierra Leone’s development.
We believe that with these vehicles, the relevant ministries and agencies of the Republic of Sierra Leone will be better equipped to perform their duties. Long live China-Sierra Leone friendship.
Dr Samura Kamara Cleared By ACC Chief Investigator
Prosecution Witness 1 (PW1), Joseph Bockarie Noah who is also the Chief Investigator at the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), has told the Freetown High Court No.1 that there is no evidence that the fourth accused person, Dr Samura Kamara, was part of the government Technical Evaluation Committee set up to implement the renovation work on the Chancery building of Sierra Leone Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.
He made the disclosure yesterday whilst continuing his cross examination from the defence counsel representing the fourth accused person, lawyer Ady Macauley.
According to PW1, a Technical Evaluation Committee was set up by the government to look into key areas of the renovation work, including the bidding and procurement processes and also to look at other serious issues associated with the renovation work. But that Dr Samura Kamara was never a member of this Committee.
Whilst continuing his cross examination, lawyer Ady Macauley also asked the witness several questions in relation to the bidding processes and also the award of the said contract in which it was revealed that the ACC team that went to the United States conducted a background check on the profile and activities of Fairfield Construction Associates.
PW1 was also shown several exhibits in relation to the bidding and award of the contract. However, he noted that there was no bidding document to their knowledge during the course of the investigations.
Furthermore, he confirmed that he did not see the final investigation report of the ACC in relation to the said investigation. At that point, lawyer Ady Macauley concluded his cross-examination for the fourth accused person.
Meanwhile, lawyer Teddy Koroma who is representing the fifth accused person in the matter commenced the final cross examination of PW1. During the course of the session, he asked questions on the issue of defects in the statements of the fifth accused person as there were two separate documents for the said statement.
PW1 was asked series of questions about the number of witnesses present when the accused statement was taken at the ACC and also on the roles and responsibilities of the fifth accused person who happened to be the Financial Attaché at the Mission at that time.
At that point lawyer Teddy Koroma asked the court to allow him to make request for the availability of nine documents that he wished to tender as exhibits in the matter.
His request was granted by the presiding Judge, Adrian Fisher, and the matter was adjourned to Wednesday 6 April 2022.
Bonthe Gets Consignment of Electricity Materials
Bonthe City,Bonthe District, Southern Sierra Leone, Sunday April 3, 2022———- The second consignment of electricity materials for the Bonthe Township Electrification Project has been delivered to contractors at a ceremony held in Bonthe.
The items delivered include two 100 KVA transformers,four 160KVA transformers,four 200KVA transformers,two 100KVA panels,four 160KVA panels,and four 200KVA panels.
While other consignments of materials are expected to arrive,it is highly hoped that this second batch of materials would be used by contractors to positively impact the implementation of the project.
Bonthe City is one of the seven headquarter towns that would benefit from the Township Electrification Project-a project that is exclusively funded by the Government of Sierra Leone.
The people expressed delight at the arrival of the materials and praised President Julius Maada Bio for staying true to his promise. They also commended the efforts of the Minister of Energy, Alhaji Kanja Sesay.