By Amin Kef Sesay
The Director-General of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), Mr. Joseph Egbenda Kapuwa on Tuesday 7th September 2020 revealed at his New England Ville office in Freetown that the SLBC Act of 2009/2010 has transformed the institution to an independent public broadcaster established by Parliament and that the institution now acquires and disposes of its properties including the 8 acres Leicester Peak that used to be the property of the Sierra Leone Government.
He enlightened that the former Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) and the former United Nations Radio merged to form the new entity for which the past United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon visited Sierra Leone.
Mr. Joseph Egbenda Kapuwa articulated that he has visited most of the SLBC stations and properties nationwide to ascertain their status, ownership, that frantic efforts have been made by the SLBC Management to reclaim all its properties through its retainers, Berewa and Co. and named such properties as those now occupied by the Independent Police Complaints Board (IPCB), the Sierra Leone Scouts Association, Yeanes Restaurant and another restaurant by the New England Ville Police Station in addition to those at Goderich and Waterloo intimating that Demand Letters have been issued to the squatters to come with their documents after which legal action would be taken against defaulters but observed that some of the institutions are Government-owned and therefore must be accommodated.
Enlightening about other achievements since his appointment about two years ago, he informed that the SLBC is now on multi-TV and social media platforms which means it can now be viewed worldwide, has an entertainment channel, that unlike in the past there is now uninterrupted power supply, live broadcast of public/national events with only four staff on duty as they now have the high-tech equipment citing the live coverage of the funeral service of Bishop John K. Yambasu on Sunday 6th September 2020 at the King Memorial United Methodist Church, Regent Road in Freetown.
He went on to disclose that he has just returned from visits to the regional stations, that Qcell has provided a generator for the Kenema Station, underscored that the Corporation is making progress in spite of the challenges reiterating that they are gradually getting there.
According to the Director General, the youngest in the history of the Corporation, SLBC Stations in Bo, Kenema and Makeni now broadcast locally and only links with Freetown for national issues like the Presidential Address.
He also clarified that the SLBC Board and Management approved the lease of the Leicester Peak and other properties and that funds from such initiative are paid into the SLBC account and properly accounted for warning that those who occupy their properties and fail to negotiate with Management would be evicted and the property reclaimed affirming that arrangements would soon be finalized for such intervention.
For the Yeanes Restaurant that is using SLBC property at New England Ville, he revealed that staff of the Corporation pay half the price for food at the restaurant and that they are also entitled to a discount for using the facility for weddings and parties adding that he himself eats daily at the restaurant that sells delicious food.
He further enlightened that the Ministry of Lands has prepared the Title Deeds for SLBC properties, the first in the history of the institution that were handed over to management by the Ministry of Lands at an official ceremony on 20th March 2020 revealing that he is working in collaboration with other stakeholders to address the issue of encroachment on its properties for which he commended the Ministry of Information and Communications for its unflinching support.
The Director General continued that a committee has been setup to protect the Leicester Peak site from encroachers and that plans are underway to fence the property disclosing that among the ten (10) tenants using the facility are the Sierra Leone Cable Network (SALCAB), the National Communications Commission (NATCOM) and an Islamic Radio Station all of whom signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with the SLBC for use of the facilities.
He said the MoUs signed with the various tenants vary depending on the facilities they are using at Leicester Peak such as the type of communication gadgets, provision of electricity and security and the period and disclosed plans by the Chinese to upgrade the road leading to Leicester Peak concluding that Management is interfacing with Government to improve on other properties and that the MoUs signed with the tenants at Leicester Peak has been reduced from 5-3 years and reviewed regularly.