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THE TRAFFIC LIGHTS PROJECT: A LEGITIMATE SINE QUA NON IN SIERRA LEONE’S PROGRESS PDF  | Print |  E-mail
News
Written by Sheka Tarawalie (Shekito)   
Monday, 29 May 2017 14:59
PREAMBLE
“An estimated Le81 billion was paid to traffic officials in bribes to settle traffic offences in the last twelve months. This means that government is losing Le700 billion of domestic revenue from unpaid fines as the monies do not go through official revenue channels…” This formed part of a much-publicised 2016 report titled CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES OF GOVERNANCE (VOL 6), sub-titled ‘Corruption Stops With Us: Ending Bribery For Traffic Offences In Sierra Leone’ by  a coalition of civil society and media activists, the Citizens Agenda for Prosperity (CAP).
This, plus many previous and subsequent of such reports, informed His Excellency the President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma to initiate a traffic lights project which would not only reduce or eliminate traffic police officers from the streets but also provide mechanisms through which monies paid as penalties will directly be deposited into government coffers. But not only that, this project portrays us as nation ready to catch up with the rest of the world in civilization, this projects prevents accidents, saves lives, gives us a sense of orderliness, and also saves fuel consumption for motorists. Suffice it to say that probably certain recent accidents which have seen us losing valuable lives could not have occurred if traffic lights had been installed extensively.
In his determined bid to ensure that the project succeeds, President Koroma specifically assigned me to see that it comes to fruition.
PREVIOUS ROLES AS PRESIDENTIAL LIAISON FOR BUMBUNA HYDRO-POWER PHASE TWO AND NEWTON SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE PROJECTS
It is worthy to note that the President has entrusted such special responsibilities to me before. I was presidential liaison for both the Bumbuna Phase II Project from inception to the signing of an agreement between Government and Joule Africa, and also for the Newton Special Economic Zone (for the location of a fruit juice factory and now with an addition of a coffee-processing plant) from inception to the signing of an agreement between Government and First Step -government officials and executives of these two companies can testify to that. My primary purpose is always to help the companies navigate through the murky waters of bureaucracy, to push sometimes reluctant and complacent government officials, and ensure the best possible outcomes for both investors and government.
PRESIDENTIAL LIAISON FOR THE TRAFFIC LIGHTS PRROJECT
It is a similar role that is entailed in being presidential liaison for the traffic lights project. It has been more daunting because it did not initially have a clear line MDA, as it has multi-sectoral components which included the Sierra Leone Police, the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority, the Sierra Leone Roads Authority etc. The project was therefore initially being coordinated by the Office of the President, first through the Office of the Chief of Staff and subsequently by the Strategy & Policy Unit headed by Prof. Strasser King – as determined by the President.
TRAFFIC LIGHTS PROJECT NOW ANCHORED AT THE MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT & AVIATION
After several consultative and technical meetings which included all the mentioned stakeholders plus the Ministry of Finance, a decision was taken at the highest level for the project to be anchored at the Ministry of Transport & Aviation in October 2016.
Since then, the Ministry of Transport has shouldered the responsibility of getting the project implemented. They, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, formed a sub-committee to the effect, and eventually got the concurrence of the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA) for the project’s implementation – in full collaboration with the Law Officers Department.
Therefore, journalists or members of the public wishing to know about details of the project can contact the Permanent Secretary in that ministry. They have all the information regarding the legitimate procurement processes that led to the installation of pilot-phase traffic lights by Elektromodul Promet, a Croatia-based company, and how they would subsequently expand on installations.
It would interest you to note that Ghana invested one hundred and thirty-five million dollars ($135 m) in a traffic lights project just for the capital city, Accra (http://www.roadtraffic-technology.com/news/newsghana-install-intelligent-traffic-management-system).
CONCLUSION
I wish to state that in my ten years of public service, I have never been associated with corruption; but rather I’ve fought corruption at great personal and official risk. I have been Press Secretary to the President, Deputy Minister of Information & Communications, and Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs; and I’ve served this nation with great diligence and meekness. I galvanised a once-shambolic State House press unit and turned it into an enviable entity; I played my own little role in pushing for the landing of the fibre optic cable in this country; and I helped give meaning and glamour to a once-moribund Internal Affairs Ministry, not least getting a more respectable office.
I have always seen myself as a journalist on loan to politics; and I want to believe that I have not disappointed my constituency, which is the journalism profession.
Anyone wishing to pursue a campaign of calumny against me can go ahead. However, my own battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers of darkness - God being my Helper.
I’ll continue to serve my country and my President with a clear conscience.
Thank you
Sheka Tarawalie (Shekito)
PRESIDENTIAL LIAISON FOR THE TRAFFIC LIGHTS PROJECT

 

 

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