When the government of Sierra Leone set up the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA), the mandate envisaged was for it to inject fresh regulatory threshold to wedge in the role of the police and road.
It is saddened that the nation has observed a deviation in carrying some core functions after it awarded an important task to a dubious contract to a suspicious company- Autospect Sierra Leone.
The awarding of the contract was for Autospect to come up with an innovative design of vehicles’ and drivers’ licenses and number plates, which could revolutionise the what is now available and stop scammers from making fakes and issuing them, something that the police have been challenged by for decades.
It was also advised that an added task was the issuing of what is known as the Temporary Vehicle Registration Tag.
After over a year since the contract was approved, Sierra Leone has seen a worsening of the problems with licenses and TVR Tags.
It appears that it is a sham deal as the government’s Transport and Aviation Ministry and the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) had made an error in privatizing the License authority by giving Autospec SL a major contract without investigating its background in doing this kind of functions. Autospec has done nothing new and, as such, has destroyed that arm of SLRA’s role in its regulatory practice. The management of Autospec is clueless.
Not only that, many of its payroll staff may have been made redundant under suspicious and vindictive circumstances.
The Public Review newspaper has gathered that Autospec is giving the SLRSA a 20% cut from earnings and for all other transactions involving money transactions strictly on a cash-in-hand basis.
Autospec is by-passing the new automated bank transfer system, which is the swift system introduced in Sierra Leone to avoid making payments through the banks.
This has rightly raised eyebrows. Tongues are wagging about money being laundered, a decision mooted against government’s financial policies.
Curiously, though, licenses and other registrations relating to payments for vehicle licenses have scandalously increased over 200% with profits being pocketed under the nose of the central bank and the NRA.
The arrangement scheduled for a review of this spooky scheme has been stalled.
Since 2016, due to this shoddy agreement reached between the Minister of Transport, Kabineh Kallon, and Autospec for his aggrandizement, many suspecting is not good for business.
Autospect, a Lebanese outfit with no track record apart from having raised its ugly head in this country, has been giving a 20% hand shake to the SLRSA monthly.
According to sources, Autospect staff are receiving all monetary transactions through cash-in-hand even though all transactions should go through the banking services. Autospect makes a whooping Le on daily. It has increased the price for the renewal of vehicle licenses from Le 600,000 old prices to Le 1, 33,000 old Leones for jeep, and TVR from Le 250,000 to Le 640, 0000.
This situation at SLRSA is pathetic. Falling short of fulfilling its mandate and core functions for licensing vehicles, the listless problems began soon after bypassing local bidders with a history of a good reputation in that sort of industry only for Autospect to come in with no background checked at all. Autospect Sierra Leone is a Lebanese company that was awarded that contract by the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authorities (SLRSA) through the back door and after failing the local content policy. “It was directed to print, issue and renew vehicles licenses in Sierra Leone,” an angry vehicle owner echoed.
According to an investigation carried out by the public Review newspaper, hundreds of customers are unhappy and fed up with the company. Autospect, a backyard company from Lebanon, had already collected monies from unsuspecting customers issue vehicle number plates, licenses, and vehicle fitness examining. To the customers chagrin, they are still waiting hopelessly.
Investigations also revealed that Autospect Sierra Leone had shut down operations for over 5 days without issuing any notice to the public and its buying customers.
It is scandalous.
How could they shut down operations without any proper notice to its customers?
The increment of licenses fees without noticing the public is tantamount to corruption and corrupt practices by the company warranting the intervention of the ACC.
As it stands, since Autospect shut down its operations, there is no statement from the company to ascertain what may have given rise to the shutdown.