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Local Content Policy not respected

-avers Hon. Kombo Kamara

July 7, 2016 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara

Member of Parliament representing constituency 056 in Port Loko district has said that companies operating in Sierra Leone are not respecting the Local Content Policy.

Hon. Kamara, who doubles as chairman of the parliamentary oversight Committee on Works and Infrastructure, was speaking during debate to ratify a USD$30m loan agreement for the rehabilitation of Bo-Bandajuma Road in the Southern province.

“Local Content Policy is also a serious concern for us. It is only on paper. Companies contracted to do road works are not respecting it. Manual labourers and even truck drivers are imported, thereby leaving our brothers out,” laments the ruling party lawmaker.

Hon. Kamara accused Senegalese road construction company – Companie Salhelinnie D’Enterprise (CSE) – of violating the Local Content Policy, adding tthat the company imports most of their labour workforce, including truck operators, from Senegal, which he said was against the policy that came into existence in 2012.

He claimed that foreign workers are given safety gears whilst their local counterparts work without protective apparatus. .

He urged the Minister of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) to involve parliamentarians from constituencies where the road work would be done for proper monitoring mechanism, especially in the  area of providing employment for indigenes.

Earlier, Minister of Finance Momodu Kargbo, who took the loan agreement to Parliament, said it was between the Government of Sierra Leone and Africa Development Bank (ADB), as well as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

He said OPEC fund for development would provide US$20 million to the project, with the ADB contributing US$10 million, while the Government of Sierra Leone would compensate residents for properties that may be damaged during the road construction, estimated in the region of US$4 million.

Mr. Kargbo told the House that one of the objectives of the project was to provide quality nationwide road transport access to the southern districts of Bo and Pujehun, thus increasing business between the capital city and the provinces.

When completed, he said, the road would reduce transport cost and travel time and enhance potential for agriculture value chain development, thereby contributing to poverty reduction.

The loan agreement, according to the minister, should be paid within twenty years with a grace period of five years and interest rate of 1%.

In her brief contribution, Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai underscored the role of the oversight committee to follow up on the implementation of the project.

She said road projects were “pro-poor development provided for in the Local Content Policy,” which she urged must be respected.

On his part, the Majority leader and leader of government business, Hon. Ibrahim Bundu said no country would develop with poor roads and that the current road construction across the country was President Koroma’s dream, when he took office in 2007.

The Bo-Bandajuma road in its current form is rugged and riddled with potholes. For over two decades the road has been in total neglect by the Sierra Leone Road Authority (SLRA) and district councils, much to the disappointment of residents of towns and villages along the route.

The road construction will start from the Shelmingo Section in Bo onto Bandajuma.

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