100 buses were of no economic value – Deputy Transport Minister

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September 20, 2018

By Ibrahim Tarawallie

The Deputy Minister of Transport and Aviation has stated that the one 100 buses bought in 2015 by the All People’s Congress (APC) regime through a dubious hire purchase agreement had no economic value because the buses could not generate enough money to run an efficient transport service.

Sadiq Sillah made the statement when his ministry appeared before the technical committee at the budget hearing to present their 2019 budget, strategic plan and achievements of the year under review.

“We are still struggling to run those buses. The buses cannot even generate money to buy fuel for their running not to talk about honouring outstanding debt,” he said.

He revealed that there is still an outstanding debt of Le9.1 billion for those buses even though between 2015 to 2017 the government had paid Le43.9 billion for them.

Concerns were also raised by those present with regards ferry services to and from Lungi.

Ministry officials mentioned in their presentation that the two ferries – M.V. Mahera and M.V. Bai Bureh – have already been repaired.

But National Coordinator of Budget Advocacy Network (BAN), Abu Bakarr Kamara, questioned the sea worthiness of the ferries because of frequent breakdowns.

According to him, one of ferries has broken down about five times this year and 17 times last year, which could pose a risk to passengers.

Kamara expressed grave concern as to whether there was value for money in the operation of those ferries and claimed that huge sums of money had been spent on repairing and maintenance of the ferries but the problem subsists.

“We have hundreds of people using the ferry on a daily basis. I wonder whether we are getting value for money in the running of those ferries because of the frequent breakdowns,” he said and added that something needs to be done to ensure effective service.

Responding, Deputy Transport Minister Sadiq Sillah recognised the concerns and admitted that the current ferries were outdated.

Because of the current problems with the running of the ferries, he urged the Ministry of Finance to provide funds for them to carry out a study on the use of those ferries in a bid to have new ones.

“We are currently working on a proposal to procure two new ferries through private business partnership, which will remove government hands in its operation,” he said.