July 8, 2019
By Jariatu S. Bangura
Chairman of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Works and Public Assets, Hon. Bashiru Siliki has urged his colleagues to support the Ministry of Works and Public Assets to urgently review the National Asset Commission Act.
The MP stated that there were many lacunas in the Act which needed immediate visitation.
The Member of Parliament also called for a collaborative team work within the Ministry, stating that the former minister and staff of the said ministry failed to deliver.
He said the familiarization meeting with officials from the Road Maintenance Fund Administration, Deputy Minister and some senior heads of department from the Ministry of Works, was the first session of oversight as there has been challenges especially in providing oversight in the ministry as poor management and lack of team work had engulfed the ministry.
He said the committee has the sole authority to oversee the activities of the ministry and that of infrastructural institutions, but noted that such was not done due to differences between ex-officials of the ministry, thus promising that the new administrators will create the difference.
Hon. Silikie said although the previous government laid emphasis on road construction, but that they were voted out because of poor management and the insincerity of contractors who received monies without doing the needful.
“We don’t want such to happen to us. We want to see collaborative work in the ministry and the narrative changed as infrastructural development is badly needed. We want to compete within the sub-region but that will only be achieved if monitoring is done properly,” he said.
Deputy Minister of Works and Public Assets, Tetemah Tondoneh assured lawmakers that the current administration was working collectively as a team and that consultation with all departmental in the ministry was in progress.
He said they are working earnestly to solve the problem encountered by the previous Minister, his deputy and the other officials.
He said the ministry is a complex institution dealing with crucial public in terms of those that should have quarters and those that should not.
He stated that they were currently carrying out a validation exercise of all quarters occupied by government workers and that they have observed that there were officials of grade 3 occupying quarters while those with grade 7 do not, which according to him was unfair.
He said they have also discovered that there were people that have been sent out to do international assignment, but that their relatives were still occupying the government quarters.
He said there was serious delay in the payment of contractors and sometimes the contractors pre-financed themselves, but still struggle to get their payment, thus calling for the immediate intervention of the committee.
On his part, the Chairman of Road Maintenance Fund Administration, Smart K. Senesie said they inherited a messy system which they were currently working to address.
He said they were currently constraints due to lack of a board members and that letters have been sent the Chief Minister Prof David Francis and Secretary to President for the setting up of the Board.
He said they were trying to put things in place to work together with the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) as they who to pay for work to be carried out has been a brawl between the two.
“We are constrained by the payment mode as though payments are supposed to be done to contractors, but that is not the case as we speak. I am hoping that things are done correctly and timely. We provide funds for maintenance and not rehabilitation, although such cases come in everyday, but we do send them to the SLRA,” he said.
The Committee demanded a comprehensive status report from the Ministry, Road Maintenance Fund and SLRA in due course as it would help them substantiate what have been stated to members.