July 21, 2015 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) said it had commenced investigation into the procurement processes of the 100 ‘brand new buses’ purchased by the government from the Peoples Republic of China prior to their arrival into the country.
Even though the arrival of the buses was greeted with happiness by Sierra Leoneans, especially students and ordinary citizens who suffer on a daily basis to get public transport to and from their business and work places, there have as well been several criticisms from some members of the public with regards the quantum of money said to have been spent to procure the buses.
Also, Chairman and Leader of the newly formed Alliance Democratic Party (ADP) last week accused the Minister of Transportation and Aviation of flouting procurement procedures in purchasing the buses, thus calling on the ACC to mount an immediate investigation into the purchase of the vehicles.
In what appears to be an apparent response to calls from some sections of the Sierra Leonean society to investigate the actual money involved in the purchase of the buses, and whether procurement procedures were duly followed, the ACC yesterday revealed that it is currently looking into the said purchase.
In an ACC release issued yesterday and signed by its Commissioner, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, the country’s anti-graft agency noted: “Though the purchase of the buses ushered in a breath of relief upon the weight of the transportation burden on the people, the procurement processes cannot be said to be beyond censure. The ACC welcomes the heightened public response and vigilance, consequent upon the ‘citizen’s audit’, advocated and promoted by the Commission. Officials of State are now subject to public scrutiny for the discharge of their functions.”
Without prejudice to the ongoing investigations, the ACC said their experience revealed that mis-procurement continues to be the bane of corruption and that the use of “no objection letters” to waive procurement rules and regulations, under the guise of emergency, was reproachable.
It urged Parliament to pay close heed to the gaps which encourage the circumvention of procurement rules and regulations, while considering the ongoing amendments of the National Public Procurement Act of 2004.
In a related development, the ACC also disclosed that it is investigating the procurement of Sierra Leone passports, noting that officials of the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Immigration Department are cooperating and assisting them with the investigations.