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No council will succeed without central gov’t support

…says WARDC Chairman Alhassan Cole

September 14, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai

Chairman Alhassan Cole: making a statement recently at Waterloo Council conference hall

Chairman of the Western Area Rural District Council (WARDC), Alhassan Cole, has said that no local council in Sierra Leone would survive without support from the central government because many people do not pay taxes, dues and property rates.

He made this statement in an exclusive interview with our reporter last Friday at council’s office on York Road in Waterloo.

“If the central government does not augment us at the local councils, we will not succeed in the delivery of services. We all need the support of the central government because the people are not adhering to the payment of taxes, dues and rates which would have boosted the local councils,” he averred and added that the 19 local councils in the country should do everything possible to take that responsibility from a central government that is already overburdened with numerous financial commitments.

Chairman Cole disclosed that WARDC has embarked on massive collection of property rates but that they still have to contend with many challenges, adding that they have called on the National Revenue Authority to enhance their capacity to collect revenue.

“Our own source revenue mobilisation is faced with many difficulties, but prime amongst them is non-compliance of people in the payment of their property rates. With the support of the central government, we have been still able to do development projects in the district,” he said.

The WARDC Chairman disclosed that councils needs over 100 Metropolitan Police Officers to support collectors collect dues, rates and taxes but at the moment they only have 12, which are not enough to cover the entire Waterloo community.

He disclosed that they have outsourced property rates, market dues and shop licences to private institutions, but the collectors need to be working with Metropolitan Police to ensure compliance.

“I have instructed one of the council’s officials to go and count all the billboards that are installed in the district that are not paying a cent to the council. The owners of the telecommunication poles within this district are not paying anything to us. How can we develop this district if monies that are meant to come to the council are going elsewhere,” he quizzed.

He said council had built a library and equipped it with relevant textbooks and other research materials for students and teachers in Goderich, plus they have constructed a secondary school there and another in Tombo.

“We have rehabilitated the road from Newton to Fogbo and other areas within the Western Area Rural District. We thank the Road Maintenance Fund for helping us with funds to do this activity every year,” he said, noting that President Ernest Bai Koroma has been also very supportive to the district by, according to him, constructing most roads such as the Regent-Grafton Road, Lumley-Tokeh Road, and the current expansion of the Wellington-Masiaka highway.

He said that very recently, council with the cooperation of the Waterloo Market, planned to give a facelift of the market, which experienced flooding sometimes this year.

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