The frequent power outages experienced in Freetown has taken a worrisome trend and the situation has further exposed the disability ofthe Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority(EDSA) to provide uninterrupted power to residential areas and businessor industrial quarters.
For over a month, the erratic power supply by EDSA has taken severe toll on the cost of production of businesses. Those without alternative means of power generation are struggling to operate their businesses as they are forced to becoming standstill for hours until the power is resupplied. The new direction government is gradually coming to terms with the failed promise of providing sustainable electricity to the people.
No one is denying the plethora of challenges plaguing the electricity sector, but three years in governance is a considerable period to surmounting most of the underlying structural issues in the sector.
Government can never be short of excuses to feed the people as a way of simmering the down tension wrought about by the inconveniency of power cuts.
The diversionary tactics adopted by EDSA is a way of deflecting attention from the chronic problems of the agency which is precipitating the power cuts.
The reality is “you can`t give what you don’t have”.
Issuing out press releases could be interpreted as a deceptive strategy because the problems highlighted in such releases are nothing new.
Electricity theft is normally sanctioned by EDSA personnel, stealing of electricity cables and the disruption or destruction of supply lines due to heavy storms predates successive governments and there are no shortages of means available to provide quick fix solutions to these problems.
Below are the flurries of press releases issued out by EDSA by way of distracting attention from the deep-rooted problems affecting uninterrupted supply of electricity.
19th May, 2021
The Management of the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) would like to inform its valued customers that due to heavy storm that affected our 33KV(Wilberforce and Balck Hall Road) supply line on Wednesday , 19th May, 2021 between the hours of 1 – 2AM, the following communities are currently experiencing power outages for the time being : Black Hall Road, portee, Wellington unto Waterloo, Goderich unto Sussex, Aberdeen and Murray Town.
Investigations on the said problem have already commenced and once unearthed, the problem would be fixed immediately and normal power supply would be restored to affected communities.
The Authority would like to apologize to the affected customers for the inconvenience this situation may have caused while also assuring them of a quick fix.
We thank our valued customers for their patience and understanding as we seek to better our service.
CONCERNS OVER ILLEGAL ABSTRACTION OF ELECTRICITY
Tuesday May 11, 2021
The Ministry of Energy notes with grave concern and dismay the persistent illegal and unpatriotic activities in the sector including but not limited to faulty meters,unmetered supply, unregistered meters, vandalization of EDSA facilities and non-charging customers by members of the public and some business organizations.
The Ministry has observed that despite persistent appeals and public education,unscrupulous citizens and business organizations continue to steal electricity through illegal connections thereby occasioning some serious technical and commercial loss on EDSA.
The Ministry wants the general public to know that Government through the Ministry of Energy is setting up a Team comprising the Sierra Leone Police, the Military and Office of the National Security that will be charged with the responsibility of looking into matters of electricity theft and/ or the illegal abstraction of electricity.
The general public is further informed that the Team will soon start its inspection patrols, and that in the course of their inspection, anyone found wanting of illegally abstracting electricity will face the full force of the law.
The Ministry continues to urge all to refrain from such acts and to help report cases that border on electricity theft at the nearest Police Station or to the Ministry of Energy.
The Ministry of Energy wishes to inform the general public that the Electricity Generation and Transmission Company (EGTC) in collaboration with Webuild( formally callledSalini), the O&M Contractor for the Operations and Maintenance of Bumbuna Hydroelectric Power Plant and Transmission Systems in continuation of the upgrade, will be installing three CTs at the Kingtom 161KV Substation in Freetown on Sunday 9th May, 2021 between the hours of 11:00AM to 4:00PM.
The Ministry wants the general public to know that the objective of this upgrade is to improve on the reliability, coordination and protection systems at the Kingtom 161KV Substation.
In view of the above, the Ministry together with its utility companies (EDSA and EGTC) wish to inform its valued customers that during this upgrade period as indicated above, some of the sources of generation will be shut down for safety reasons which will consequently lead to limited generation capacity. Therefore, EDSA will commence shedding of electricity to customers due to limited power available to enhance a successful completion of the ongoing upgrade.
The general public is therefore assured that during this period, power would be distributed evenly to customers without fair or favor.
The Ministry of Energy will continue exploring all avenues to ensuring that it fulfills statutory commitment to providing affordable and reliable electricity for every Sierra Leonean.
C4C MPs Boycott Presidential Speech
The Coalition for Change commonly called (C4C)the third largest political party in parliament has boycotted the presidential speech, during the state opening of Parliament of the fourth session of the fifth parliament of the second Republic of Sierra Leone.
At a snap press conference held at the precincts of Parliament, the dissatisfied MPs stated that the reason they boycotted the presidential speech was as a result of public disregard of their Chairman and Leader, by allowing someone else to sit on his allotted sit, rendering him to be without a sit.
They said that their Chairman was officially invited by the leadership of Parliament to attend this year’s state opening of Parliament, but to their dismay, when the Chairman made a move to take his designated sit, he met someone else sitting on it.
The C4C MPs stated that, because their leader was not given the respect he deserves after he had received a formal invitation,they therefore decided to join their leader outside thereby conspicuously and gently matched out in solidarity of their leader as a form of protest against the leadership of Parliament, especially the speaker whom they accused of being bias in his decisions.
According to the C4C members of Parliament this is not the first time they have face similar maginalisation in the well of Parliament, but times without number.
They stated that, the Speaker has not been fair with C4C MPs as he does marginalize some of them even if they want to speak and advocate on behalf of his people.
They pointed out that, the person who sat on their Chairman’s allotted sit was one of the people who took the party to court and he however taken a position from the ruling government, which is against the Political parties Registration Commission (PPRC) regulation and as far as they are concerned, the person in question, is not a member of their party any more.
Chinese Amb. Commends ACC Boss
The Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Hu Zhangliang, and entourage, have on Wednesday, 19th May, 2021 paid visit to the Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Francis Ben Kaifala Esq. at 3 Gloucester Street Office in Freetown.
During the visitation the Ambassador also made donations to the Commission in furtherance and support of the country’s remarkable Anti-Corruption efforts.
Ambassador Hu conveyed special sentiments to the Commissioner on behalf of President XinJingping and the Government and people of The People’s Republic of China for the alluring credentials that the Commission has gained over the past three years in the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone.
He also encouraged the Commissioner and his team to be relentless in the fight, as it bodes well for the actualization of the country’s development aspirations and international image.
“You have impressed us, you are fearless, and dedicated to the fight against corruption, as corruption is a tumor in the development goals of a country”, Ambassador Hu said.
He furthered that China also has a robust approach to fighting corruption; stating that the huge successes of the ACC in the fight against corruption has driven them to forge this new alliance with the Commission, with the view to identifying areas of much needed support for the Commission.
In his final statement he expresses hope that the donated items which are; four desktop computers, one projector with screen, and a set of office desk and chair will help to further support the work of the Commission.
He added that this was merely an initial gesture of goodwill but said there will be more in the future as the relationship develops.
In his statement, Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala welcomed Ambassador Hu and his delegation to the ACC and expressed gratitude to the Chinese Embassy in Freetown for their thoughtful consideration in deciding to support the fight against corruption.
He said, “We have made great progress in the fight against corruption over the last three years with the existing capacity that we have; so you can only imagine how many more grounds we would cover with the requisite capacity and support.
We still battle with many institutional challenges including; the lack of a purpose built anti-corruption office to accommodate more personnel- but one is under construction; inadequate tools to carry out the work, modern forensic equipment etc.
Most importantly, the Commission intends to make massive investments in corruption prevention with the required funding. So your support is timely and appreciated.”
Commissioner Kaifala also emphasized on the need for technical support to the Commission through capacity building programs which will enhance the skills of staff to carry out their work with greater efficiency.
The Commissioner of the ACC later took the Ambassador and his team on a conducted tour of the Commission’s offices at Gloucester Street.
Sierra Leone and China share diplomatic relations that stretches back to 50 years. During this period, the country has benefited greatly from Chinese support especially in the area of infrastructure; and most recently, massive student exchange programs and scholarships.
MoPED Engages Stakeholders On SDGs Implementation
The Ministry of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED)has on Wednesday 19 May 2021 at parliament building Committee Room 1 held a one day consultative meetings with Stakeholders on the preparation of the Sierra Leone 2021Voluntary National Review (VNR) Report on SDGs Implementation.
The Development Secretary of the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development Mr Peter Sam-Kpakra I’m his statement during the one day stakeholders’ sensitization workshop on the preparation of the Sierra Leone 2021 VNR report on SDGS implementation said that Sierra Leone will be presenting its third Voluntary National Review Report on implementation of the SDGs at the upcoming UN High Level Political Forum on the SDGs in July this year.
As part of the initial preparation for the 2021 VNR Report on the SDGs, MoPED has participated in a series of background engagements at both global and nationallevels.
He said this is the third related national stakeholder engagement they are having, adding that theyhad an inaugural meeting on 16″ March to formally kick-start the process, and on the 10th of May, another technical session was held to provide a status update and to discussfurther data collection responsibilities.
He said this round of Voluntary National Reviews reporting on the SDGs, Sierra Leone is expected to present an evaluative, highly focused report showcasing keyPolicy impact on the ground.
He maintained that, consistent with Governments strategic focus on strengthening human capital development, governance, and ensuring access to Justice for all, the 2021 Voluntary National Review Report (VNR) for Sierra Leone will include basic policy impactassessments on goals four (education) and sixteen (governance and strong institutions),as their accelerator SDGs.
According to him, MoPED in collaboration with StatSL, the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, and the Legal Aid Board have advanced field datacollection exercises to inform the report preparation process.
He said he is happy to inform that, they have succeeded to produce and submit the Key Messages from the process to the UN, meeting the deadline of 3rd May, 2021.
He further dilated that as part of the broad stakeholder consultation and inclusive participatory approach to this process, their partners, the Integrated CSO Platform on the SDGs few days ago commenced district level consultations and local level data collection on the SDGs. He said this is done with the supervision of the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development. He thanks the UNDP and UNICEF for their financial support to theentire VNR process.
He pointed out that as strategic actors in the national development planning process and the SDGs implementation,the CSO input remains a critical part of this VNR process, and indeed, their participation would enhance national ownership of the 2021 Sierra Leone VNR Report on SDGs implementation.
He stated that it against this background that they all converged at the Committee room number one of Parliament to effectively engage the
Parliament of Sierra Leone, Civil Society Organisations, Audit Service Sierra Leone(ASSL), and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on the SDGs implementation.
A power point presentation on how additional data has been collected so far and the progress on data collection and processing by the ministry was done by Director of Policy Planning and Research Dr. ShekaBangura.
S/Leone, Russia sign Visa-free MOU
During his one-day state visit to Moscow, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation Prof. David J. Francis together with his counterpart Sergey Lavrov signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a visa-free movement of holders of both Diplomatic and Service passports between the two countries.
Signing on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone Professor Francis appealed to Ambassador Lavrov to consider reopening their embassy in Sierra Leone as it will further strengthen their bilateral relations, adding that a lot of business people would love to visit Russia for business purposes.
“Your citizens and investors and tourist will enjoy our tourist destinations across the country”, he ended.
22yrs Old Dock for Murder
22 years old MomohTogaizba on Tuesday 18 May 2021 made his first appearance before Justice AlusineSesay during the May Criminal Sessions at the High Court in Freetown.
It was alledge that the accused murder AlimammyShekaSesay.
The charge sheet states that the accused on 1 May 2020 in Freetown murdered the deceased AlimamyShekaSesay.
During proceedings, no plea was taken by the accused because it is a capital offence.
The accused was denied bail by the judge and the matter was assigned to Justice KombaKamanda for hearing on the 25 May 2021.
Also Abdul Sesay and AlusineConteh were also arraigned before the Judge on two counts of conspiracy to murder and murder contrary to law.
The indictment states that the accused on 26 September 2018 in Freetown conspired together with other person’s unknown to murder Mohammed AlieTuray.
There was no plea taken by both accused.
The accused were also remanded in custody and the matter was allocated to Justice Adrian Fisher for hearing on the 25 May 2021.
Bar Association facilitates NCRA Verification For Colleagues
The Executive of the Sierra Leone Bar Association (SLBA) has facilitated the confirmation and registration of the personal details of lawyers by the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) at Court No. 6, Law Courts Building, Siaka Steven Street in Freetown on Wednesday, 12th May, 2021.
The confirmation and registration of lawyers is part of a national exercise conducted by the Nationsl Civil Registration Authority for citizens and non-citizens, commenced in Western Area on 6th of May, 2021.
The confirmation and registration of lawyers at the Law Courts Building, is consistent with an appeal made by the President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association, Michaela Eddinia Swallow Esq. to the National Civil Registration Authority.
“The volume of work of lawyers is very high. Therefore advocating for a designated place and date for lawyers to participate in the confirmation and registration exercise was important”, Ms. Swallow said, adding that, “it will prevent lawyers from queuing in the designated NCRA centres”.
“I want to thank the Director General of NCRA for making such consideration a possibility. I encourage other citizens and non-citizens to participate in the exercise because it is vital for the identification of all citizens and non-citizens in Sierra Leone,” Ms. Swallow further stated.
The Executive of the Sierra Leone Bar Association continues to take actions seeking the welfare of lawyers. It could also be recalled that in March 2021, the Executive also engaged the National Covid-19 Emergency Response Centre and Ministry of Health and Sanitation for lawyers to benefit from the COVID-19 vaccination exercise.
Energy Minister Seeks to Punish Offenders
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Energy, AlhajiKanjaSesay,together with his Deputy Minister and senior officials in the Ministry of Energy has held fruitful discussions with the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice,AnthonyBrewah,and the Chief Justice,Babatuntde Edwards on the need to establish an Electricity Offenders’ Court.
The visit of the Minister came hard on the heels of the wicked vandalization and utter destruction of an electricity installation at Kossoh Town by some mischief makers and criminals to add to the worrisome trend of the constant destruction and theft of electricity installations and materials,unmeteredsupply,unregistered meters and non-charging customers by members of the public and business organizations .
AlhajiKanjaSesay told the Attorney General and the Chief Justice that these incidences had occasioned some serious technical and commercial losses on agencies directly involved in the generation,transmission and distribution of electricity,adding that places where these installations were vandalized would also go for long periods without electricity.
He spoke about government’s overall policy objective in the energy sector which, among other things,include increasing access to energy,but was quick to state that the realization of such a good objective was constantly being threatened by these criminal acts.He therefore appealed to the two men to legally use their good offices to help in the establishment of an Electricity Offenders’ Court.
The Minister of Energy went on to say that matters involving electricity theft charged by the police to court do not get quick attention and that the fines that are normally imposed on convicted persons fall appreciably short of compensating for the huge damage caused or in creating a deterrence.
The Attorney General and the Chief Justice both promised to treat the concern and request with the utmost seriousness that it deserves,noting that their offices would look at the Electricity Act of 2011 to see how it would procedurally or statutorily be of help in the creation of the court.
The visit of the Minister to the county’s topmost officials in the judiciary is indicative of how determined he and the Ministry of Energy are in their quest to permanently address the repetitive and worrisome issue of vandalization and theft of electricity installations and materials.
18 Yrs. Old Awaits Sentencing
Eighteen years old man who identifieshimself as John Kamara has made his first appearance before Justice AlusineSesay during the Criminal Sessions at the High Court and is presently awaiting his sentence.
The accused was arraigned on a count of Larceny in a dwelling house contrary to section 13(a) of the Larceny act 1916.
The charge sheet states that the accused on 6 July 2020 in Freetown broke and enter into the dwelling house of Fanta Sillah and stole eight hundred thousand United States dollars equivalent to eight million, one hundred and sixty thousand Leones.
After the charge was read, the accused pleaded guilty to the offence.
State prosecutor Joseph Sesay states that the accused has pleaded guilty to the offence and should be sentence accordingly.
He said the accused was committed to stand trial at the High Court by a commital warrant dated 2 October 2020 and the commital warrant was signed by both the accused and the Magistrate.
Cecilia Tucker from the Sierra Leone Legal Aid Board pleaded with the judge not to pose a custodian sentence on the accused and said he is a first time offender and he has not wasted the time of the court.
State prosecutor Joseph Sesay states that the maximum sentence for such an offence is 14 years imprisonment.
The accused also pleaded with the judge to temper Justice with mercy on him.
The accused was remanded and will be sentenced according by the judge.