It is very unfortunate that among both the ruling SLPP and the main opposition APC there are some intolerant misguided diehard party fanatics that firmly believe that SLPP and APC should not in any way collaborate to work to make the country better for its citizens.
However, as can be seen in the picture above, the SLPP elected President Bio and the APC elected Freetown City Mayor, Her Worship Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr in their thoughts, words and deeds prove that they in no way share this myopic view of politics being a war between opposing politicians.
It could be recalled that along that line of thinking, there were many APC fanatics who decried the Freetown Mayor for being seen side by side with President Bio in Canada during the TED conference when even though finding themselves on different sides of the political fence, both have the same ambition of making the capital city a pride of place that every Sierra Leone can point to as an emblem of collective political efforts between the ruling party and the APC culminating in it become the best and the cleanest city in West Africa.
Along that line, Thursday 24 January 2019 was a big day for the more than 2 million people living in Freetown with the official launching of a Blueprint and Strategic Programme, aimed at transforming the city into a twenty-first century city.
Speaking at the launching of the Freetown City Council (FCC) initiative, president Bio confirmed that the ‘Transform Freetown’ Blueprint and Programme align very closely with his government’s New Direction priorities and vision.
He said that the insistence on purposeful planning, local participation and engagement with the private sector and other stakeholders, public accountability, improving the efficiency and quality of public service delivery, are aimed at providing opportunity and making Freetown a better, more livable and more resilient city.
The three-year programme for transforming Freetown deserves and will get the full support of his government, the president said.
“Paopa, our Freetown will be clean,” President Bio said. “So, within the last 8 months in governance, my government has supported the Freetown City Council with direct financial disbursements of 18.3 Billion Leones. My government is committed to working for Freetown and in making our Freetown a better city for all of us,” he assured.
President Bio commented on the Council’s proposed plans for managing municipal assets, congestion in the city, disaster management during the rains, leveraging ICT to boost revenue mobilization, promoting tourism and the many informal settlements that are dotted across the city. These he said, relate to the wider issue of social exclusion and social injustice.
“In the past, we saw how municipal assets were illegally appropriated by the politically powerful and their rogue agents. My question is, does the initiative aim to recover those assets? And is it not possible to plough back proceeds from value-added city assets into the development of the city, especially in new infrastructure for sewage disposal, water supply, and sanitation?” he asked.
Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr who said that circumstances in Freetown have been challenging over the years, adding that there are a lot of pressure in Freetown on housing, the environment, as well as the growing need to provide basic social facilities for residents, congratulated the President for his commitment to decentralization, and said that his presence at the launching of the Transform Freetown initiative is a testament to that.
“We want to ensure that by working with the central government, Freetown will be restored to its lost glory. The Freetown City Council has sought to align its agenda with that of the national development plan,” the Mayor said.
Minister of Finance – Jacob Jusu Saffa, commended the Mayor for moving in the right direction and aligning the Council’s programme with the vision of the New Direction, adding that because local council resources are scarce, it is the responsibility of government to provide funding for councils.
Mayor Aki-Sawyerr’s commitment to transform Freetown is divided into three work streams:
- quick wins and urgent activities (e.g. flood mitigation work, drainage rehabilitation, the rehabilitation of the Taylor-Cummings Gardens);
- Process improvements (e.g. mobile money local tax payments and the digitization of the FCC property rate system); and
- Developing the Transform Freetown agenda.