July 18, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
The Western Area Rural District Council (WARDC), popularly called Waterloo Council, has outsourced revenue collection to credible Sierra Leoneans in an effort to raise more money and embark on good service delivery.
Currently, the council is planning to relocate the Waterloo market, which was recently overwhelmed by flood, to a suitable location for traders. Plans are also underway to construct and rehabilitate schools, peripheral health units (PHUs), feeder roads, and provide pipe borne water for its teeming population.
According to reports, the Western Area Rural District is considered as one of the richest in the country, with some of the finest beaches that attract tourists into the country, many fishing communities that could generate own source revenue, thousands of houses and shops to collect property rates from, and available land for industrial development, among others.
However, the district remains one of the most underdeveloped in the country. Apparently, this is what has urged authorities at the council, especially the administrative wing, to embark on mass own source revenue collection in order to embark on massive service delivery.
In a recent interview with Chief Administrator of the council, Ahmed Shekuba Koroma, he said the council had been unable to collect revenue because of limited human resource, among other constrains. He added that they have recently outsourced the collection of revenue to credible Sierra Leoneans in a bid to improve revenue collection.
“The problem we are currently having is that most of the people are not paying their taxes, bills and rates to the council. Even the central government has not been paying for its properties in the district. The non-compliance of the residents of the district to paying taxes has seriously threatened service delivery projects in the district,” he said.
The WARDC Chief Administrator disclosed that the council has outsourced the collection of property rates, collection of revenue in lorry parks, and revenue for licencing of fishing boats to various Sierra Leonean companies, adding that outsourcing of revenue collection was also a means of providing employment for unemployed Sierra Leoneans.
He said every house, shop, and factory in the district would be asked to pay property rate determined by the size of the facility, adding that council has experts who can evaluate the structures and state how much money the owners should pay.
“Over the years, the council officials have been accused of failing to do service delivery as mandated by the Local Government Act of 2004. This time around, we are determined to make sure we meet our targets for next year. We have prioritised a lot of projects and we hope to accomplish them if we generate a lot of revenue from the own source,” he said. He added that they would close any shop and factory whose owners fail to pay property rates to council.