January 15, 2019
By Regina Pratt
The Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation (SLRTC) was not properly prepared to operate and maintain the new buses when they entered into service in July 2015, says the 2017 Audit General’s Report on the Accounts of Sierra Leone.
The report says SLRTC had been unable to efficiently and effectively manage public bus services and has limited facilities and expertise to operate a passenger bus service throughout the country.
The report which would soon be acted upon by the Sierra Leone Parliament notes that the arrangements for managing the country’s passenger transport services were confused and that the respective roles of the Ministry of Transport and Aviation and that of the National Commission for Privatization (NCP) were not clearly spelt out.
The contract to purchase 100 new buses was signed by the Ministry of Transport and Aviation in May 2014, spearheaded by the former Minister, Leonard Balogun Koroma, but the report claimed that there was no coordinated comprehensive plan for the introduction of those buses into service.
The report says the Project Steering Committee set up by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED), in conjunction with the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, to oversee the operation of the 100 buses appeared to be in conflict with the statutory role of SLRTC’s Board of Directors.
The Audit report notes that prior to the arrival of the 100 buses, the level of service provided to the public by SLRTC was increasingly limited and that the public had to rely on private operators.
The report further states that despite acquiring 64 new buses to supplement its existing fleet, the corporation was in possession of 39 buses and that only 10 of those buses were in serviceable condition at the time of the arrival of the 100 buses.
“The Corporation’s central bus station is in need of a complete overhaul,” the report recommends.
The report continues that the Project Steering Committee did receive a concept paper on the management and operations of the 100 Chinese buses prior to their arrival in June 2015, but that the paper lacked sufficient details.
According to the report, as at 30 September, 2015, there was no agreement as to who would pay for those buses, because MoFED approved the procurement on condition that SLRTC would enter into an on-lending agreement to repay the total cost over a period of three to four years.
“The garage facilities operated by SLRTC had been allowed to deteriorate to the point that they were not fit for the purpose of maintaining SLRTC’s fleet of buses. The garage was devoid of even the most basic equipment.
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The report says SLRTC had not developed a realistic multi-year projection of income and expenditure for the operation of the 100 buses and that the six-month financial projection running from July to December 2015 contained some errors and unrealistic assumptions.