President Koroma’s recent ten days holiday trip to Europe has sent a powerful and ironic message to tourists thinking about their next destination, that Sierra Leone is not good enough for anyone looking for an enjoyable holiday.
President Koroma is one of the richest heads of state in Africa, after failing to publicly declare his assets since coming to power in 2007. High level corruption in Sierra Leone is rife, despite the president promising a zero-tolerance agenda.
He is said to have amassed over $200 million in real estates in some of the most expensive and popular cities of the World, as well as cash in various overseas bank accounts.
Sierra Leone is classed as one of the poorest nations in the world, with more than fifty-percent of its citizens dying before their 50th birthday of poverty and preventable diseases.
A powerful message also sent by president Koroma’s unpatriotic decision to seek healthcare and holiday in the rich suburbs of Europe is that – if you are in Sierra Leone and you rich, and need medical attention – get out of the country fast; and if you have money and looking for a holiday resort – get out of Sierra Leone as fast and far away as you can.
But this lack of willingness to put Sierra Lone first, is not just a problem for the president, though the buck stops with him, as head of state who is expected to show strong leadership.
Ministers and senior government officials are all at it: From spending millions of the country’s meagre, hard-earned revenues on luxurious cars and palacious homes for their families, to travelling abroad and investing in real estates overseas.
Recent Audit Reports have found that millions of dollars are being spent by ministers and officials on unnecessary visits overseas, with little or no financial return to the cash-strapped nation.
Critics say that the abuse and misappropriation of ministerial per-diem is making it possible and easy for officials to afford holidays overseas, at the expense of the poor tax payer and international donors. (Photo: President Koroma on holiday in Germany – enjoying a game of squash).
President Koroma’s perverse decision as the man at the helm of promoting the country’s tourism industry, to take his break away from the ‘hard work’ of running the country, comes as the UN published a report suggesting that Sierra Leone may record one of the fastest growth in tourism in 2016, once all the figures have been gathered and if their projections are correct.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Sierra Leone may have witnessed 310 per cent more overseas arrivals in 2016, compared with the previous year when Ebola was declared over. But most of these annual arrivals are Sierra Leoneans living abroad. What percentage of this 310% increase are foreign tourists? That’s the crucial question which the report does not answer.
About 24,000 people arrived in Sierra Leone in 2015 – mainly international health and care agencies and foreign military personnel that arrived to help combat Ebola.
UNWTO says that “while it doesn’t have complete data for the year, that is expected to reach 74,400 for 2016 once all the sums have been done.” Sierra Leone’s economy cannot survive on 74,000 tourists. The president and his ruling APC have failed woefully.
But when compared to one of the most popular tourist destinations on the continent – South Africa, you then see how poorly president Koroma and his government have performed in attracting overseas visitors to the country. In 2016, South Africa had more than 10 million holidaymakers.
What does Sierra Leone have to offer? “Amazing beaches, idyllic villages and smiling people,” says Gunnar Garfors, who has visited every single country on Earth.
Sadly, this is all the ruling APC government of Sierra Leone can boast about in its tourism brochure, after ten years of poor governance, corruption and ineptitude.
Should tourists thinking about their next holiday destination follow president Koroma’s example, few will arrive in Sierra Leone.
They will be heading for Europe, where president Koroma – one of the richest leaders in Africa – feels more comfortable and happiest. (Photo: President Koroma leaving Sierra Leone for holiday in Germany).
“There isn’t a Sierra Leonean who doesn’t wish the country was booming with tourists. But the fact is that it isn’t. In order to really open up Sierra Leone’s tourism industry, it still needs to do away with government barriers that impede tourism growth – like heavy levies on airfares.
“You can travel to Senegal for almost two to three times less from the UK than you can travel to Sierra Leone and that needs to change If we want tourists, we have to earn them.
“We need to fix our health infrastructure because no one wants to vacation without emergency health care. Most importantly, we need to empower local businesses in the hospitality industry by creating financial incentives that allow them to set up easily, and grow,” a Sierra Leonean commented on social media about the latest hyped-up news report about increased tourist numbers to Sierra Leone.
The fact remains that president Koroma and his ministers do not put Sierra Leone first. When he makes a decision to buy his fleet of expensive and luxurious 4×4 vehicles – he does not put the welfare of the people first; when he decides to fly to Germany for holiday – he does not put the country’s tourism industry first; when he sends his children abroad to study – he does not put the country’s education sector first; when he gives out contracts to his foreign cronies – he does not put the country’s entrepreneurs first; when he chose to invest his money in foreign banks and real estates – he does not put the country’s banking sector first.
Sierra Leone needs change. The country desperately needs a new government and a change of leadership.
The ruling APC have shown that they do not have the full interests of the people of Sierra Leone at heart. They have abused the massive electoral capital with which they were entrusted in 2007 and 2012.
They have failed the people of Sierra Leone. (Photo: One of the many palaces constructed by a single government minister).
It is time for change. It is time for a government of national unity – a government made up of progressive liberals with the skills, commitment and expertise to move Sierra Leone forward – a government that will prioritise investment in electricity, water, health and education.
Without these, there will be no development – no jobs – no wealth creation, and Sierra Leoneans will continue to depend on foreign aid for their survival. Sierra Leone needs change in 2018.
Landslide And Flooding Cost Sierra Leone Economy $30 Million – World Bank
A preliminary World Bank report has put the cost of last month’s landslide and flooding on Sierra Leone’s economy at $30m.
The Damage and Loss Assessment was carried out by experts from the World Bank, UN agencies and consultants, said Mr Henry Kerali, the World Bank Country Director Responsible for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Mr Kerali, who is based in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, was part of a team of the World Bank in Freetown to help the country respond to the August 14 calamity, which has claimed at least 1,000 lives.
The World Bank’s Damage and Loss Assessment was carried out as part of a larger study of Freetown’s environment. It investigated the causes of the landslide, its effect both on the economy and human lives, and the risk of future occurrence of similar disasters.
Mr Kerali said the $30m represented the physical damage to health and education facilities, the industry, transport and housing.
Hundreds of houses were destroyed by the disaster that affected over a dozen communities in and around Freetown. Several of houses were buried at the foot of Mount Sugar Loaf in Regent Town outside the city.
Many other buildings were washed away, several kilometres along a valley in the west end of the city.
The World Bank said it was providing $82m recovery package to be expended on short, medium and long term projects.
The short term projects include the provision of relief for those seriously affected, like reconstruction of foot bridges washed away by the floods.
There was also a plan to provide cash transfers to victims to alleviate their suffering.
The recovery package was contributing to the doubling of the World Bank’s financial aid to Sierra Leone, from about $155m in the last three years, to $312m for next three years.
Some 50 per cent of the money will be in the form of grant while the other half will be “soft loans”, repayable over 40 years, with a five years grace period and an interest rate of about 2.5 per cent.
Sierre Leone – Alleged Brawl Between Attorny General And Information Minister In State House True?
There isn’t an end in sight to the growing social media speculation into what exactly took place at State House in Freetown, Sierra Leone last week, between the country’s Attorney General – Joseph Franklyn Kamara and the Minister of Information – Mohamed Bangura.
There are unofficial reports that both men – key ministers in the Koroma government were involved in a heated verbal altercation in the presence of president Koroma, which degenerated into an ugly fist fight.
Both ministers are believed to have sustained minor cuts as they traded blows. According to government sponsored media, there was a heated argument between the ministers, and reports of a fist fight are said to have been blown out of proportion.
But the Information Minister – Mr. Mohamed Bangura told reporters it was a “Personal emotional discussion.”
The editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph – Abdul Rashid Thomas contacted the ministers to confirm what took place. Will there be blood on the carpet at the party’s forthcoming national convention?
This is what Information minister Bangura was asked: “Mohamed good evening. I am trying to cross check information I received about a fight that took place at State House between you and Joseph Kamara – the Attorney General. Can you comment please?”
Sierra Leone – 30 Schools Banned From Participating In WASSC Exams By Ministry of Education
Over 30 schools in Sierra Leone are allegedly banned by the Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MEST) from taking part in the West African Senior Secondary School Exams (WASSE).
The MEST Public Relations Officer (PRO), Brima Michael, said, “I don’t want to comment on this issue. If I had the official authorization to comment I would,” he said.
While the Ministry plays dodgeball with the media and public regarding the issue, the future of over 30,000 pupils is at stake.
Sierra Leone International Mission Secondary School at Old Wharf, in the east end of Freetown was commissioned by the former Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Minister of the Education, Alpha Wurie.
This school, which was part of the Sababu School building project undertaken by the SLPP government has been disapproved by the current Minister of Education from partaking in the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Exams (WASCE), said the Acting Principal, Thomas Pessima.
The School’s prefect, Cherinor Moseray, said they were taken aback when the school authority break the news that their school have been barred from partaking in the WASCE. The reason they were barred from the exams was not preferred, he lamented.
Acting Principal Pessima, explained that in 2007, the school received a letter from the Ministry, which recognized the school as a senior secondary school, eligible to admit pupils who have passed their Basic Education Certificate Exams (BECE), and also the school is eligible to partake in the WASCE. “Since 2007, the school has been sending students for the WASCE… However, when the school went to the Ministry for this year’s WASCE, the school was disapproved,” explained the Acting Principal.
He said the Principal of the school, Leonel Kanu, wrote the Ministry and attached a copy of the eligibility letter the school received in 2007. However, the school’s attempts to salvage the situation went awry. The Ministry maintained its ban and disapproval of the school for reasons that remain unclear. Efforts to reach the Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Minkalu Bah, on several occasions did not work, Pessima muttered.
As the saga continues hundreds of affected school pupils are in limbo, helpless and not knowing what to do. While threats of teenage pregnancy, crime and drug abuse glares into the innocent faces of these helpless pupils.
By Ophaniel Gooding
Thursday March 16, 2017.
Sierra Leone – Former Chief of Defence Staff of RSLAF Shot Dead
Former Chief of Defence Staff of RSLAF Shot Dead By Sallieu Specks Sillah Dec 23, 2016, 17:06 Email this article Printer friendly page You May Click Here To Read or Discuss Views About This Article The former Chief of Defence Staff (CSD) of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces Retired Lieutenant S.O.
Williams was shot dead at his residence at Devil Hole in the outskirt of Freetown at 3:00 am on Thursday 22nd December, 2016. The late CDS relocated to Devil Hole in early June this year after retiring from the Army. According to sources who spoke to the Awareness Times Newspaper, two unarmed military security officers who were deployed at his residence working from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm. 1.
Former CDS of RSLAF, Retired Lieutenant S.O. Williams His wife and two children are out of the country, whilst one of his son- Fidel Williams just returned from the USA three days to his death, butunfortunate Fidel did not sleep in the house on the day the incident took place. However there were two other small boys whom the late CDS was taken care of.
The boys, who are aged between eleven and thirteen years, were in the house the night the CDS was shot. Meanwhile, according to Isatu Sesay, mother of one of the boys who was interviewed by this newspaper, his son ran to her around 4:00am and told her that the former CDS had been shot dead by three unknown armed men.
However, she confirmed that nothing was stolen from the house as she said the boy reported that only their mobile phones were taken away and that they were not hurt. When asked whether they were aware of any threat against the late man,they responded in the negative. Fidel Williams the late man son in tears said all what he was hearing were speculations.
He however assured that he trust the Criminal Investigation Team led by Assistant Inspector General of Police Mamuna Conteh of the Ross Road Police Division to come out with the truth of the matter.
Meanwhile, as of the time of coming to press, the corpse had been taken to the mortuary for postmortem, whilst the two military security officers attached to his residence and the two small boys who slept in the house on the night of the incidence are helping the police in their investigation.