…Mayor urges Cabinet to act
October 19, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
Mayor of the Bonthe Municipal Council, His Worship Layemin Sandi has urged the government, through President Ernest Bai Koroma, to take a Cabinet decision against officials of ministries, departments and agencies who have deliberately refused to return to the island despite an ultimatum by erstwhile Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Diana Konomanyi.
Madam Konomanyi, who has since been moved to the Lands Ministry, reportedly visited the municipality in January 2015 and promised to instruct the Minister of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) to withhold allocations to MDAs whose officials have refused to return to the Island.
“I will tell the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to take stringent action against devolved sector heads who have refused to return to Bonthe Island after Wednesday, 28th January, 2015. If they think MLGRD [Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development] is joking, let them try it. The Sherbro Island should not be a barrier for devolved sector heads to relocate their offices to somewhere else,” the former minister is quoted to have said at the Bonthe Municipal Council conference hall.
However, almost 20 months since the minister made the promise, civil servants deployed to the island are still reluctant to go, according to sources on the Island, while the minister’s threat remains just that.
In an interview with Mayor of Bonthe Municipal Council, His Worship Layemin Sandi, yesterday, he told Concord Times that none of the MDAs that were ordered to return to the island have done so, adding that nothing has been done by the government to ensure that they return.
“Failure on the part of government to withhold their allocations as promised, officials of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) who relocated their offices to Mattru in the Jong Chiefdom have deliberately refused to return to the Bonthe Sherbro Island,” averred the mayor.
He disclosed that the District Medical Officer (DMO), District Census Officer, District Deputy Director of Education, Deputy Director of Agriculture, main office of the National Electoral Commission, Office of the Assistant District Officer, and the Local Unit Commander of Bonthe Police Division have all refused to return to the municipality.
“Their absence in the municipality impedes timely service delivery and mostly results to the late submission of reports to various government institutions, especially when one considers the size of our budget,” laments Mayor Layemin Sandi, adding that their refusal to relocate has also contributed to the underperformance of the council.
He, however, singled out the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, which he said has a senior official on the ground.
Mayor Sandi disclosed that Bonthe Island had approximately 10,000 inhabitants before the 2015 census, adding that their main means of livelihood is fishing, but expressed that the government has failed to provide them with the appropriate fishing gadgets.