The erstwhile Koroma administration introduced the Local Content Policy to generally enhance the empowerment of Sierra Leoneans and to also promote our own local produce on the market. It is under this policy that registered companies are compelled by government to employ a particular quota of Sierra Leoneans as well as super markets to sell some standard local products recommended by Government.
As a very good policy for the empowerment of Sierra Leoneans at all levels, we believe the President should continue with his vision of promoting the Local Content in all sectors, especially in the award of government contracts, where successive governments had over the decades enriched foreign nationals instead of their own citizenry.
We must not only commend the Bio administration for awarding a Sierra Leonean the contract to supply food and non-food items to the Sierra Leone Correctional Service (SLCS) which has, to a very large extent, empowered the Sierra Leonean to start importing rice into the country; we must also commend his government through the Ministry of Transport and Aviation for signing last Thursday 23rd July, 2020 an US$11million World Bank contract agreement with Sierra Leone’s leading construction company, Pavi Fort JAl-Ayhanlar Holdings JV- Sierra Leone. The contract agreement, according to confirmed report, encompasses road improvement works including traffic signalization, intersection and pedestrian walkway improvements. This move by the Transport and Aviation Ministry clearly demonstrates the President’s vision to promote the Local Content in Sierra Leone.
Prior to the advent of the Bio administration, the SLCS contract and many other government contracts were awarded to foreign companies and consequently, a few Sierra Leoneans benefited from those contracts including the greedy and selfish officials that received kickbacks from those rogue contractors. Instead, the bulk of what they scooped up from the contracts was remitted to foreign lands thereby leaving our country in the abysmal depth of abject penury. But the change of contract at the SLCS has evidently made a great difference as compared to when it was implemented by a foreign company.
It is against the aforesaid changes that we at the nightwatch wholly support the recommendation of the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA) for the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) to immediately initiate termination proceedings against Autospect SL Limited, a Lebanese company that wreaked Comium mobile company, which the former Koroma administration awarded a contract in 2017 to produce number plates, vehicle registration, licences as well as to construct eight fitness test centre across the country for the examination of vehicles. The company is not only producing substandard number plates, it has been convincing the Board and Management of SLRSA for the use of the existing fitness test centres at the Authority’s headquarters and the provincial cities instead of constructing new ones as entailed in the so-called contract.
We believe the President’s vision of promoting the Local Content should also be extended to SLRSA when the contract of Autospect would be finally terminated as recommended by NPPA. There are many reputable Sierra Leonean companies capable of implementing such contract if given the opportunity. In fact, during the Kabbah administration when the harmonized number place system was introduced, reputable local companies were contracted to produce number plates and they were produced with better standards as compared to now. It therefore stands to reason that the government reverts to the Local Content instead of enriching a rogue foreign company that cannot even fulfill its corporate social responsibility, let alone contribute immensely to the country’s economic growth.
We believe that the more government empowers our local companies to expand, the more they will contribute to national development by creating more job opportunities for young Sierra Leoneans, fulfilling their corporate social responsibilities and bringing smiles to millions of homes. That is our position!