Port Loko: New City Grapples with Criticisms

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By Sierraleonews.com

There is a climate of uncertainty over job security in the new Port Loko city, following the regime change which ushered in President Julius Maada Bio.

Reports indicate that the Chief Administrator of the Port Loko District Council is usurping the office by assuming the functions of the Procurement Officer. It is further reported that the CA now procures everything including office stationery and furniture.

A source disclosed weeks ago that the National Electoral Commission decided to uninstall the Air conditioners affixed in the halls used as tally centres during the conduct of the March polls. It was surprising to see the CA, according to the same usually reliable source, usurping the functions of the Procurement Officer by opting to order for A/Cs instead of the Procurement Officer.

The idea came about when the newly elected Chairman -Ibrahim Santigie Bangura (Mr.) decided to replace the A/Cs before even the NEC could reach at the decision to uninstall the split units.

To this length, the CA could not explain reasons as to why he clearly breached the procurement procedures in that regard. A wide array of views from people in the Port Loko district headquarter township and bigger towns in the immediate environs believe the Management of the Port Loko District Council is desperate to make a fortune from the ordinary people at all cost.

In 2017, the Northwestern regional headquarter town was officially given the status of a city following the commissioning of the Bankasoka hydro dam power capacity. The political view at that time was that electricity was the only basic amenities that was lacking in that region to equate squarely with amongst the regional headquarter towns in Sierra Leone.

The former minister of works housing and infrastructure, Hon Ibrahim Kemoh Sesay told sierraleonews.com in Port Loko that so many things the electricity availability could do to inspire brisk business. He said some residents in Port Loko only had course to go to Freetown, the capital to eke a living using the due advantage of electricity.

Some schools of thought have it that it was a premature idea for the APC then government to accord the status of a city to the Northwestern region based on electricity alone. The necessary infrastructure was not there. For example the new Port Loko City Mayor currently has no office to sit in. That is because this was the first time Port Loko is having a city status. The council has the mandate to operate as a semi autonomous entity to generate finances from market dues. The people of Port Loko are not used to paying taxes and their expressed sentiments are that the council is breeding more untold hardship into their revenue purses than necessary.

With a city rate row rearing ugly heads to situations Journalist Hassan Bruz, a renowned Northwestern Reporter based in Port Loko town posts on his facebook wall: “I am told that Council has dished out letters to house owners across the District of Port Loko for the payment of Property Rates. This has not gone down well with the inhabitants of Masiaka, Lunsar and particularly those of Kaffu Bullom. Owners of dwelling Houses, Shops and other Business Centres are required to pay not less than 400,000 Leones and as much as over a Million Leones each.”

He said the people in those respective localities view the latest development as a tendency to exploit them especially when they could not see the actual services that are being rendered by the Council to deserve such exorbitant levies.

“Indeed payment of Taxes is often required for the development of a locality of even Nations. But the belief is that it must be done in consultation with the relevant stakeholders and after thorough consultation and public awareness raised with the Taxpayers themselves. Many are therefore wondering whether the Chief Administrator was able to confer with the Ward Councilors on this issue or if the people were ever sensitized. Although I am yet to sort the version of the Chief Administrator on these crucial issues, it is gathered that the People of Lungi in the Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom remained vehemently opposed to such levies and have even sent in letters through their Ward Councilors with emphasis on their unwillingness to pay a kopeck.” Journalist Hassan Bruz wrote on his facebook wall.

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Abu Bakarr Tarawally is a Journalist based in Freetown. He works for the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation as a radio producer. He has once served as Editor for a few newspapers in Freetown, including Sierra Express Media, The Exclusive Newspaper and his own newspaper, the Daily Express Publications. He is a teacher trainer, and loves writing and reading a lot. Email: abstarawally@gmail.com. Call +232 88601277 or +2327661303.

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