EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW : Minister Logus Koroma tells it all- Peace with Tam-Baryoh, sea accident, state of the APC at home and abroad and more…

COCORIOKO  –Your favorite newspaper–has conducted an exclusive interview with the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Hon. Leonard Balogun Koroma .As readers can recall, the Transport Minister has been very much in the news lately .He was part of a peace delegation from Sierra Leone sent abroad by the ruling All People’s Congress ( APC ) to restore peace in the party’s diaspora branches . He has also recently represented Sierra Leone in some key meetings abroad and the minister’s plate became full to the brim when Sierra Leone witnessed another sea disaster that claimed many lives. As if that was not enough , the Minister became embroiled in what the Minister  was allegedly considering to be  a libel case  with one of Sierra Leone’s most celebrated journalists, Dr. David Tam-Baryoh.

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TWO BROTHERS LOGUS KOROMA AND TAM-BARYOH TOGETHER AFTER MAKING PEACE

Due to the abuse and misuse of the social media and the internet in general by many Sierra Leoneans bent on tarnishing the image of their country because their political party the Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) is not in power , COCORIOKO  decided to get the Minister to give his own version of the many events that recently thrust him in the centre of the media buzz  that transfixed the nation. The Minister has given his own side. From New Jersey, KABS KANU reports :

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KABS KANU :  Many matters under your watch have taken place recently and the public would want to for the first time hear your own version , First,  the Tam Baryoh issue : What is the latest ?

 

MINISTER LOGUS KOROMA :

 

The latest with the David Tam Baryoh issue is that we have reconciled through the intervention of concerned friends and our Kono kinsmen ; you know, David is Kono and i am Kono/Creole , my father hails from Kangama Ngorama, Kono District, and  settled in Yengema where i partly grew up and  attended school.

 

KABS KANU : Thank  God for that.  Some people are saying that the matter between you and David Tam Baryoh involved a simple exchange of simple sms texts and should not have reached the CID . What is your take on this?

 

MINISTER LOGUS KOROMA :

To me, the text message i received from my brother, David Tam Baryoh was not simple ; it made a serious allegation against me and associated me directly , or indirectly with people in “high places” who were planning to commit arson by burning down a radio station in the 21st century : that’s quite a grave allegation to be associated with in any way whatsoever in a world where the issue of journalists and the Press is taken seriously ; but this is a not a matter for journalists or the Press; my privacy was invaded by an unsolicited text message to my personal phone ; it was not a published article in any newspaper .

 

Secondly, the message was copied to my Boss, His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma portraying me as a violent man , who had issued a threat , through an unknown “lady friend” to David Tam Bayoh for which he was seeking the President,s protection : had i not reacted to the allegation both to my Boss, the President and the Police for record purposes, and if anything had happened to David’s radio station following that text, i would have been held partly responsible . All i did was to clear my name, my hard won integrity, and my 40 years of unblemished public service to Sierra Leone, first as a public servant rising to the rank of Acting Permanent Secretary ; Secretary to the Electoral Commission and Chief Elections Officer and as a politician ; NEVER in 40 years charged for any offence be it Vouchergate/Squandergate or any other criminal activity ; None whatsoever, my hands are clean, and will always be .

 

KABS KANU : Tam Baryoh is giving the impression that the matter has to do with an even greater issue – disunity within the camp of the A.P. C. ? Do you agree with him ?

 

MINISTER LOGUS KOROMA :

 

I disagree with him totally ; there is no disunity in the A. P. C. and there NO CAMPS .There may be a perception of disunity in the view of some Kono politicians , and there is also the perception of camps perpetrated by some Kono politicians to promote their own interests , or ambitions, but i want to assure you that PRESIDENT KOROMA IS  FIRMLY IN CONTROL OF THE A. P. C. PARTY AND THE A. P. C. GOVERNMENT .

; the President’s popularity both within the party and the nation is un precedented, unrivalled and unmatched ; his achievements speak for themselves ; you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that .

 

KABS KANU : So there is absolutely no disunity or camps in the A. P. C.

 

MINISTER LOGUS KOROMA :

Absolutely no disunity; absolutely no camps in the A. P. C. President Koroma is, and will remain firmly in control of the A. P. C. Party and the Government directly or indirectly for a long time to come ; the only game in town is President Koroma . This our President has so much popular appeal , acceptance by the majority of Sierra Leoneans and recognition by the International Community .

 

In fact, the A. P. C. needs President Ernest Bai Koroma for as long as he lives, in whatever capacity, and as a man who believes in prayer, i know it’s going to be a very long time .

KABS KANU : Would you consider making lasting  peace with Tam Baryoh on this matter ? After all, you were good friends before…

 

MINISTER LOGUS KOROMA :

 

In fact, as i said in my answer to your first question, we have already made a lasting peace brokered by friends and our Kono kinsmen at undisclosed location in Freetown . I will forward the peace photo to you . David and I were not only good friends before; we are Kono brothers .

 

KABS KANU : We thank God that you have made peace. I am so glad to hear that. And many patriotic Sierra Leoneans will sleep well tonight. God is so good. Thank you, Jesus. You remember that that was what I suggested in my write-up on the issue. Now,  let us get to the issue of the boat accident . Do you have any latest information for the public ?

 

MINISTER LOGUS KOROMA :

First of all , let me express our deep regret over this accident and express our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and those who suffered injury, and, or distress in one way or the other . The latest information is that a total of 23 people lost their lives and the matter is under joint police and administrative investigations , the outcome of which will be made public .

While the investigations are ongoing, the Beltship (Sanda Island) has been impounded; all three captains of the NASSIT ferry, Sanda Island Boat and SABENTY Pampam have been detained pending the outcome of the Police investigations ; and the two separate independent investigations are ongoing .

A good start is that the Management of Beltship Company, owners of the boat ( Sanda Island) which ran into the local Pampam ( SABENTY) have agreed to pay compensation to all categories of victims of the accident ; together with the office of the Chief of Staff, we are meeting regularly and working on the modalities .

 

KABS KANU : What is your ministry doing to avoid future tragedies at sea?

 

MINISTER LOGUS KOROMA :

 

A joint Press Release has been issued by the office of the Chief of Staff and my ministry in which we have adopted measures to largely avoid similar tragedies in the future . These include

instructing the Sierra Leone Police , the Joint Maritime Unit and the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration to enforce the following as provided for by law as follows;

a) Boats with outboard engines (Pampams) should not sail before 7am and after 7pm

b) All passengers must wear life jackets throughout their journey

c) All sea vessels including Pampams) must have navigation lights

d) Proper manifest must be kept for all vessels, including ferries

e) Sierra Leone Maritime Administration to ensure that boats are seaworthy and Captains have appropriate licenses

f) Carrying capacity of vessels must not be exceeded

g)Sierra Leone Maritime Administration, Sierra Leone Police , Sierra Leone Ports Authority and the Navy must intensify their monitoring activities .

h) Speed limits MUST be strictly adhered to .

 

KABS KANU :  Mr. Minister, you recently embarked on some foreign tours . Could you give a brief report on the assignments you went to undertake and what was accomplished ?

 

MINISTER LOGUS KOROMA :

 

Secondly, on other matters; i don’t know if you are referring to official or private matters, but officially, i have just returned home after a 5 week overseas tour that took me to the UK, Germany , Holland and the United States of America on A. P. C. party matters ; and Cameroon , Paris and Beijing on official matters .

 

In the UK , Germany, Holland and United States of America , I was part of a party Presidential Diaspora Elections/Convention Committee headed by the Deputy Chairman of the party and Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Hon. Minkailu Mansaray , tasked with the responsibility to hold party conventions and executive elections/selection in conformity with the December 5, 1995 A. P. C. Party operative constitution , in the 4 countries mentioned above .

 

In this regard, the mission was accomplished without any problems and we now have the executive of all of those branches in place, working amicably in peace and quiet.

 

On the official front, in Cameroon, i assumed the position of Chairman , Board of Governors of the West African Regional Maritime University  based in Accra , Ghana; held fruitful discussions with investors in Paris ; and together with the Hon. Minister of Finance and others visited Beijing, Peoples Republic of China where we held fruitful meetings with the President/Chairman of the China Exim Bank, officials of China Railway International, proposed contractors of the new Freetown International Airport at Mamamah; officials of China Harbour, Poly group and Zhong Tong bus company , which will be rehabilitating the Road Transport Corporation garage/workshop,and  training centre in addition to supplying 100 brand new buses for public transportation nationwide.

 

 

With regards to what was accomplished , i would say that in fulfilment of our Presidential mandate,  we successfully conducted A. P. C. Diaspora election/selection/conventions in the UK, USA, Germany and Holland branches ; secured the supply of 100 brand new buses with adequate spare parts for public transportation in Sierra Leone , including rehabilitation of the Road Transport Corporation garage/workshop and training centre;

successful meeting with the President/Chairman of China Exim Bank re the Mamamah Airport Project, and successful meeting in Paris and Cameroon.

 

KABS KANU  : What are you doing to make the peace in the A. P. C. branches in the diaspora sustainable ?

 

MINISTER LOGUS KOROMA :

 

The leader of the recent Presidential Diaspora Election delegations accepted some responsibility for the disunity that hitherto existed in the Diaspora branches .

 

There was lack of oversight and ensured compliance with the provisions of the party constitution . The diaspora  branches are accredited by the party and operate on By – Laws which MUST not be at variance with the party constitution which remains supreme .

We have now made this known to A. P. C. branches all over the world and we will no longer leave them on their own .

Their activities and actions were causing embarrassment and ridicule to our great party and we will not allow that to happen again . From now on , we will conduct all A. P. C. Diaspora elections and supervise their activities , starting with a credible membership list for all branches overseas .

 

KABS KANU :

Mr. Minister, what is the latest on the construction of the new airport at Mamamah ?

 

MINISTER LOGUS KOROMA :

 

The Mamamah Airport Project , President Ernest Bai Koroma’s flagship project is a reality and is on track ; it is going to happen . In fact, that was one of the reasons for our recent visit to China and meeting with the President and Chairman of China Exim Bank .

The Airport will be constructed in 2 phases . Phase 1 will cost the equivalent of $198 million , which the China Exim Bank has now approved and will commence this year and make the airport operational . Phase 2 will include further expansion and will commence after the completion of Phase 1 .

Silmultaneously, the Mamamah Airport New City Project will also be pursued .

 

KABS KANU : What final word do you have for readers ?

 

MINISTER LOGUS KOROMA :

 

First and foremost, let me wish you and all readers of your popular and leading website Cocorioko a happy new year .

As I have always said, no country in the world has developed without a robust transportation system . Transportation by land , sea and air is the life blood of any economy in the world be it in the third world or the advanced countries . The capacity of any country to be able to efficiently and timely move people and goods is an essential ingredient to economic success and prosperity, and that is why my ministry and it’s work is so vital to the success of His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma’s Agenda for Prosperity,  (Afp)

COCORIOKO Man Foday Mansaray helped facilitate the interview.

SEE  OUR INTERVIEW WITH DR. DAVID TAM-BARYOH LATER

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