By Ragan M. Conteh
The Chairman of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Works, who also doubles as the deputy Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Hon. Bashiru Silikie, has discovered that the Sierra Leone Road Authority (SLRA) has spent Le52 billion on feasibility studies.
This was discovered on Wednesday 9th September, 2020 at Committee Room 1 in Parliament.
According to the Committee, SLRA was awarded 20,000 kilometers roads for feasibility studies, and that the 3rd phase of road construction amounted to Le 52 billion.
Hon. Bashiru maintained that spending such monies, on feasibility studies, was a waste of resources, adding that the SLRA should have engaged local consultants, as some local consultants have very good instruments. In fact, Government should have paid less than the amount paid for feasibility studies.
This was discovered on the report containing activities undertaken by the Authority for the period 2019 to August 2020. He detailed ongoing, completed, planned programs and some suspended projects.
The status report said feasibility studies, for the 2000 km of trunk roads in preparation for the donor’s conference, are ongoing, adding that the progress has been remarkably slow as a result of the COVID-19, whilst they are awaiting the donor’s conference, but that the Government of Sierra Leone has intervened by way of gravel road improvement where clearing and earthworks were being done.
Hon. Bashiru Sillikie pointed out that the two documents, submitted to the Committee by the Ministry of Works and that of the SLRA, have a lot of variances.
The Chairman also pointed out that SLRA has not been prioritizing roads for the success of the New Direction government, adding that voters of the New Direction should be considered highly.
Hon. Silikie also said the Road Maintenance Fund (RMFA), which was created with small staffs, has now been over bloated. He added that it should not be so. He continued that salaries paid to workers of the institution are more than the revenue generated. The Committee has therefore requested donor contract information, MoU and as well as documents of government funded roads.
The Director General, Ing. Amara Kanneh, confirmed that the documents submitted to the Committee were misleading, and that the SLRA will ensure they go back and correct their documents and submit same to the Committee.
The DG pointed out that the major challenge, in the implementation of these projects, is inadequate funding, particularly regarding government funded projects and government counterpart funding. He added that extreme efforts are being put in action, by all parties concerned, to ensure the timely completion of all ongoing works and to commence work on new projects.
He furthered that roads comprise of projects that are at advanced stages of completions; major districts headquarter towns linking, which were ongoing but suspended following the Special Audit and few township roads, are being proposed for rehabilitation/construction.