GARBAGE POLITICS IN SIERRA LEONE : MAYOR WINSTANLEY JOHNSON STATES HIS CASE

WINSTANLEYBANKOLEJOHNSON2
 
Sent to COCORIOKO  by our Freetown-based columnist, Oswald Hanciles
 
 
I knew and saw it coming all along – from the word “Go”, I have been drumming it into the ears of everyone who cared that this SLPP government was committed to devolution and decentralisation “in words only” – not deeds. But nobody listened. In fact virtually all the pro-government newspaper editors (including Sama Banya, a special adviser to President Kabba) gleefully waved my concerns away as “…the brooding of a new kid on the political block who was too much in a hurry to learn”.
But Sa Lone Times contributor Oswald Hancilles knew far better, when in an article of 2nd July, 2004 – barely two days after our inauguration – he intimated that “……as long as it is Bankole Johnson that the APC has made Mayor, the SLPP must do all in its power to stifle him, failing which they should forget about the 2007 elections”. How disappointed the SLPP will be come post 28th July.
Today I am being proved right by every tick of the clock, that the SLPP government is using every trick of the trade to “frustrate” me. If only they knew what resilience and dogged determination is all about!! There is one thing however that I promised Vice President Berewa when I assumed office on 1st July, 2004, and that was that as I came into politics with my character intact, I will definitely leave politics unblemished – no matter what.
Thankfully with God on my side, thirty months into the job, and with much success over a labyrinth of government conspiracies to impeach or imprison me, I have absolutely no intention of letting Mr. Berewa down. No goblin or foul fiend can daunt my spirit. No “political lion” can frighten me and if it becomes necessary to do so in the interest of the electorate, I can even fight with giants (short or long).
In writing this piece, I will not attempt castigate the entire SLPP government as charlatans because to be honest, most of the robust defenses and critical information updates at my disposal have come from my friends amongst their memberships. This shows that even across the political spectrum, and with a little bit of tolerance, maturity and goodwill, there are still very good Sierra Leoneans refusing to contribute to the further degradation of our nation state out of blind tribal, regional and political ignorance.
I take all of those SLPP friends as the very nucleus group of the much trumpeted “third force” which has to come from within (and against tremendous odds) to make this place better than the lurch we’re in today. So I will not be attacking the SLPP government wholesale. I will however not spare anyone in the SLPP that has allowed him or herself – irrespective of age – to be “scapegoatized” and used as pawns in this game of “garbage politics” – all in the name of continuity.
I listened to that BBC interview with the Attorney General a few days ago and like most people, was able to punch holes of inconsistencies and inaccuracies embellished through his utterances. And so did the interviewer who was no doubt Sierra Leonean. Either that or the Attorney General wasn’t au fait with the truth. How I wish he’d ever had the privilege of being supervised by this Mayor! His esteem would no doubt have improved by leaps and bounds because his conscience would have been much clearer!!
The Radio UNIOSL (FM103) interview with Sidikie Brima, the Local Government Minister on the morning of 5th. January was as usual far from being impressive. It was equally full of gaping holes. For example I have only been in charge of solid Waste for 21 not 30 months – having taken over the assignment on 15th March 2005. Also there is no way he can review
Freetown City Council’s (FCC) competence to resume the functions because we are not on board the Task Force in the first place. And for someone stressing the need for accountability, it was absolutely reckless for the minister not to be able to quantify exactly how much money they have expended since re-taking the functions on 21st. December (see below). How I wished I also had such unchecked access to government finances!!
To the SLPP government, decentralizing specifically to an APC dominated Freetown City Council is anathema. It means losing power and that they cannot afford to do at this crucial time. Participants at the last Hotel
Bintumani Decentralization workshop can well remember the chief driver of the programme, Minister Sidikie Brima openly manifesting a lack of faith in the concept by stating that “they say our ministry also has to devolve…..but what we have to devolve I don’t even know but let’s wait and see”. That is why they have been persistently creating Commissions and changing the focus and character of some NGOs under their firm control, transforming them into their counterpart Councils in the various localities.
For example, instead of partnering with Council in the implementation of various projects (in compliance with Sec.23 of the Local Government Act of 2004), some local NGOs are persistently going it solo, and will always have the Vice President at hand to commission the projects on completion.
For example, it was as far back as 2004 that Mr. Berewa, in sensing the management prowess of this Council quickly wrote to advise that “…..NaCSA will not be subsumed by any Local Councils”. Obviously the embargo there was specifically for the Freetown City Council.
The next election must be won at all cost, so no efforts will be spared in denigrating the Mayor. But the more they try – with or without Police intimidation – the more they have goofed disgracefully because you simply cannot bring a good man down!!!
This piece therefore is a credible attempt to illustrate with chronological clarity, documentary evidence that the recent unabated government publicity about their re-taking over the Solid Waste functions of the municipality from the City Council (the best Christmas present I have received in ages though!!) was all a calculated bundle of lies, calumny and subterfuge typical of their administration. I will leave it with you to discern the truth.
A few of my “home based” compatriots believe I should have come out with a counter press release. But that would have simply added value to a man whose ministry is in fact irrelevant and constitutes an impediment to civilization and development. With the re-introduction of Local Councils, the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development honestly lacks continued relevance and will continue to constitute a political masquerading mischief. How can a hand-picked, pro-government minister effectively and impartially supervise duly elected Local Government Institutions with “executive and legislative authority”?
From the perspective of the critical majority, the tirade will not be worth an oyster – especially with a government that periodically shoots itself in the mouth. For example, less than one week after the bogus press release, the now notorious Ministry of Local Government were out again with another radio announcement informing the public that their efforts to sanitize the city were being frustrated by unpatriotic elements engaged in removing garbage from the landfill (“Bormeh”) sites and spewing them back into the main streets. Another abominable lie!!
This government must have been day dreaming to have ever imagined they will go scot- free for attempting to smear my name and character. In the interest of the masses, I will however not be averse to an open public debate between myself and Mr. Sidikie Brima, the Minister of Local Government on the matter at his own convenience, so as to come out with the whole truth and I hope he will not disappoint “our” people.
But first there are a few simple issues and questions requiring very simple answers and clarifications as follows-:
• Why is it that it is only now that they have eight new trucks at their disposal that the government has decided to re-take the functions and not earlier?
• How could a government that has only recently signed-off the much delayed US$2mio Subsidiary Agreement with the FCC on 9th August,2006 decide (within three months of signing that agreement) to re-take the functions we have been performing for nearly two years without prior notification to either us or the IDA/World Bank of their reasons for doing so?
• Why did the government deliberately fail to forward a copy of the above executed Subsidiary Agreement to SALWACO, the Project Implementation Unit up the date of their re-taking the functions? Equally so, why did SALWACO, (PIU) fail to have forwarded a copy of their own Subsidiary Agreement executed with FCC since 6th April, 2006 to the IDA/World Bank?
• Why has the government failed to produce documentary evidence from the IDA/World Bank indicating that unless we partner with GTZ, they will not release the USD$2mio or part thereof to the FCC?
• In all our deliberations it was categorically made clear that GTZ have expertise but do not have, and are not committing funds. So why the lying reference in their press release to GTZ as “also providing funds for the implementation of the project”?
• If the government was so concerned about the transparent and accountable nature of our proposed partnership with the GTZ, why did they surreptitiously and prematurely release US$20,000 from the Consolidated Fund to GTZ without notifying us? – i.e. prior to suggesting that we open a special account? (Dr. Nour accepted that was a serious mistake and volunteered to refund the US$5000 already expended)
• Why has the Minister of Presidential Affairs failed to produce on demand, documentary or any other form of reply evidencing of our reluctance to participate in any institutional arrangement involving government and the donors?
• If as agreed with H.E. the President and team, overall management, supervision and control would be vested in the FCC, why was GTZ asking FCC per their letter of 19th December, 2006 to “nominate a representative” to their “Klin Salone” project? Aren’t we the ones who should be asking them to do just that?
• Minister Sidikie Brima’s reference to my insistence to operate a special project account “alone” is a blatant lie and simply exposes his limited knowledge about basic risk management practices, which preclude sole custodianship over public corporate assets. The fact of the matter is that most government ministers and civil servants are so profligate and dissolute with public funds, that every other person is viewed as innately as corrupt as themselves. But who in his right senses would believe that a retired Corporate Executive of Head of Treasury rank, would insist on signing away public expenditure “alone”?
• If anything, to have excluded the City Treasurer and Chief Administrator and agreeing to my operating the special account jointly with the GTZ representative would have been more beneficial to me personally. But that would have constituted a great disservice to both the electorate and the APC Party, and I do not see myself betraying that trust.
• Minister Sidikie Brima’s reference to Sec.97 (6) as his basis for re-taking the functions from FCC is bogus because there are mentoring procedures to be followed before applying that section of the Act. And even where it is applied, it should be for period of ninety days – not indefinitely as is now the case. The fact that no time limit has been stipulated indicates that the government has no intention of reverting the functions to FCC – unless and until as usual, thy have exhausted the IDA/World Bank support which they are deluding themselves still stands at US$2mio.
• If this government knew that “my actions were persistently beyond my powers” – (Ref. Sec. 100 (d) of the Act) why did the President not preferably dissolve the Council using their Parliamentary majority approach? But both the Attorney General and Sidikie Brima knew that their actions are untra-vires the Local Government Act, hence their blatant abuse of Sec. 97 (6).
• Can Sidikie Brima produce copy of the letter inviting this Council to collect sanitation vehicles? And if government was so concerned about the sanitation needs of this city, why did they not donate one of the US$18mio heavy duty equipment and vehicles inherited from UNAMSIL, as they did to some other Local Councils?
• And can anyone please ask Sidikie Brima why this Council was neither favoured with a copy of the Press Release or even a copy of the contractual agreement between GoSL and GTZ forwarded to the IDA/World Bank identifying the latter as replacement implementers of the Solid Waste Component under the Development Credit 3045-SL?
• Finally GTZ are not the only post conflict development experts operating in Sierra Leone. The EU, UNDP, USAID, DFID, UNICEF and even Prince Charles are all experts that have made caustic comments and reports on the high level of corruption, poor and weak central governance structures and “a troubled justice sector” in our country, and have even proffered solutions. But why has the President not thought it fit to transfer governance to those institutions or replace his ministers with their country representatives?
So the person to bear the greatest responsibility for these unsavoury developments is His Excellency the President himself. This is because since December, 2005 when he first broached the subject of donating trucks and buses expected from Libya to enhance FCC’s city cleaning and public transportation capacity, up to another meeting with him on the morning of 10th September 2006 (prior to a general meeting with the IDA/World Bank Task Team at SALWACO) he never for once mentioned GTZ as potential partners.
When he eventually did at a subsequent meeting at which myself and our future President, Hon. Ernest Bai Koroma were present, We consensually agreed that partnership with GTZ must be predicated on FCC owning management, supervision and control – not as Task Team members. I believe that as my fountain of honour, equity and justice he should have intervened at the appropriate time, rather than allowing issues to deteriorate this far.
In hindsight I can now recall the President volunteering to act as my personal “bulldozer” immediately after my inauguration, if anybody stood in my path. Many seasoned journalists had a good laugh when I confirmed my reliance on the President’s assurances then. I am afraid I’ll have to disappoint them again but I don’t see why I should not always trust my country’s President and Chief Executive
Before letting you into a synopsis of the solid waste crisis dating back to 2004, let me ask yet another simple question. Knowing African governments for what they are, what in your wildest dreams would have been the predominant wish of this very government that has so much attempted to asperse my character under the circumstances? Simply taking functions away from the Council and leaving me in peace would certainly not have been an option. They would have compounded my disgrace for having the effrontery to challenge them by additionally locking me up for the GBP1million they alleged I stole from Crown Agents?
I leave it to you to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest. But you have an obligation to join this crusade for the truth, by disseminating these documents to the widest community in the diaspora to avoid being classified as “educated morons”. Send it to everyone on your email list 
  Sierra Leonean or not. This is your contribution to help redefine the future of this country called Sierra Leone. It is not that many here are not aware of our problems, but because of “hand-to-mouth” syndrome, they are afraid to openly speak against the ills of society.
The intention is to get this SLPP government to stop politicizing everything and show greater commitment to deepening democracy at local levels. If we allow them to get away with this they may try something more detrimental to your country in future. Remember the adage, “give a man an inch and he’ll ask for a yard”? This country belongs to us all and those who have been duly elected must be given an opportunity to serve the people who voted them into office.
If on the other hand you are part of the international community, you are morally obliged, as guarantors of the peace and stability we continue to enjoy at your expense, to see that all arms of government function according to the prevailing rules and regulations of the game. You must insist that the grounds for usurping the Solid Waste functions are both irregular and frivolous, press for those functions to be reverted to the FCC and supported at the same levels once accorded the Office of National Security – Le100mio/US$33,000 for a single day (March 25th, 2006) or Le60million/US$20,000 for a week only (25th Dec. 2006 to 1st January, 2007) to GTZ as at now. (The GTZ support can be verified from transactions over their Rokel Commercial Bank Ltd, Foreign and Local Currencies Accounts Nos. 1046737 and 1743763). Throughout the entire 21 months FCC was in charge, only Le40million per month was received from the government to cover fuel, maintenance/repairs and wages for over 100 labourers.
Now to the crux of the matter and thanks for your patience for reading this far.
A BRIEF SYNOPSIS OF FCC/GoSL WASTE MANAGEMENT PROBLEMS
Council was reconstituted 1st. July 2004 to assume full responsibility of various municipal responsibilities including Waste Management. This function was previously under control of the Ministry of Youths & Sports (MY& S) and supported Le980mio annually. Dr. Bright himself confirmed that much in one correspondence refuting my insinuation of an annualized Le5billion support.
Even with Le980mio annual support, the MY & S, as a government in power- were an absolute failure and were unable to satisfactorily perform. Thus between October – December 2000, the Ministries of Health & Sanitation (MoH&S) and Transport & Communication under World Bank Transport Sector Project committed Le802mio over a period of three months through the UNDP. The municipality was divided into four (4) zones as follows-: • Zone 1 – From Ferry junction to Hastings – Le197mio allocated to John L.Swarray of Duguray Engineering & Construction Ent
• Zone 2 – From Ferry Junction to East End Police – Le182mio allocated to Mr. Tunkara of Mabella Youth Company
• Zone 3 – From Clock Tower to Sanders Street – Le198mio – allocated to Alithur Freeman of Community Development Unit (CDU)
• Zone 4 – From St. John to dead West – Le225mio allocated to SKEMPSM
The entire project failed and the cleaning activity reverted to the MoH&S. The Accountant General at the time was funding the MoH&S Le60mio monthly to cover fuel expense only. On the other hand throughout the 21 months period the Freetown City Council (FCC) was charged with the responsibility of city cleaning, we only received an average of Le40mio monthly to cover fuel, wages, spares and even medical & death expenses of the temporary workforce.
A Statutory Instrument of 11/11/04 ceded Waste Management functions from MY & S to FCC – but actual devolution delayed until Mid-March of 2005.
We held a meeting on 16/11/04 with Dr. Bright and team at his Brookfields office to discuss handing over of functions. FCC team comprised Deputy Mayor and Chief Administrator. At that meeting, Dr. Bright’s request for FCC to contribute labourers to complement and understudy his work force declined. FCC proposed instead a properly sequenced and phased devolution plan approach of human resources, assets and funding.
Dr Bright agreed to FCC proposals but did not follow-up. Instead MY & Sports entered private arrangements with Deputy Mayor regarding funding for use of FCC lorries to undertake Waste Management functions. I ordered two vehicles back to FCC Works Yard pending proper arrangements concluded.
By 1st December, 2004, the MY & S had been seeking tenders for the supply of cleaning equipment and hiring of trucks, front-end loaders and bull dozers – without reference to FCC. This was a desperate attempt to access and dissipate the IDA/World Bank US$350 contemplated for an emergency cleaning of Freetown before handing over the cativity to FCC.
Between 1st. December, 2004 and 10th March, 2005, several meetings held at George St offices of Minister of Finance (MoF) with J.B.Dauda and his two deputy ministers, Dr. Bright, Sidikie Brima, including Finance, Youths and Sports and Local Government ministries’ officials. FCC position at all of such meeting was not to accept responsibility unless government complies with the following-:
• Sec.47 of the Local Govt. Act – i.e. that “Until and including the financial year ending 2008, Parliament shall appropriate to Local Councils as a tied grant for each devolved service, at least that amount necessary to continue the operation and maintenance of the service at the standard to which it was provided in the year prior to its devolution” – i.e. Le980mio annually.
• Refund to FCC the amount of Le663mio as per Cabinet Conclusion Paper dated 24/9/2003 on account of illegal withdrawals from the FCC superannuation Fund
• Arrange for the IDA/World Bank grant of $2mio per Development Credit component for Solid Waste be ceded by a formally executed Subsidiary Agreement to the FCC
• Clearance by Government of Sierra Loene (GoSL) on status of two previous agreements purportedly signed 19th December 2003 and 19th January, 2004 between MY & S and Alternative Use Plc UK by which municipal solid waste functions were to have been taken over by AU Plc UK
GoSL refused to comply with or clarify status of all above unless we first accept responsibility. FCC declined again because we had no “start up” finance or assets to kick start operations. In a desperate attempt to relinquish the responsibility, huge burn fires were set all over Freetown immolating all the skip bins whilst the few vehicles at their disposal had been comprehensively vandalized and their carcasses abandoned at our Works Yard.
On Thursady 25th February, 2005, Dr. Dennis Bright caused to be published in a number of tabloids; a Public Notice captioned “GOVT. CLAIMS MAYOR REJECTS WORLD BANK FUND”. The body of the press release was extensively aspersive both on my character and the institution I head, and was calculated at misleading the public into believing that I had personally rejected an offer of GBP2.3mio. – “….because of my incapacity to understand simple and commonsensical procedures…”
In between, the previous GoSL facilitator Haroun Sankoh had been frequenting FCC premises and openly boasting that he would rather “make love to his own mother” than allow an APC-led council to enjoy the US$2mio IDA/World Bank Grants their SLPP government had worked so hard to successfully negotiate. It is believed that it was Haroun Sankoh – rather than Minister Dr. Bright of Youths and Sports who actually signed the Credit Agreement on behalf of that ministry
Several aborted meetings convened in between at MoF George Street ofices. At one such at which the World Bank Country Manager convened and volunteered to mediate, the then minister of Finance (J.B. Dauda) deliberately locked Mr. James Sackey in his top floor office and instructed his two deputies to deal with us instead below. That meeting was aborted. Mr. J B Dauda and Bank Country Manager apologized profusely and agreed to re-convene two days later. That never happened.
In between those aborted meetings there were allegations that by Cabinet decision, the SLPP government was already showing willingness to commit Le30mio to SLPP Youths to clean city for one day – instead of genuinely assisting the FCC to expedite take over of its statutory functions.
By his letter of 25th. Feb, 2005, Local Govt Minister threatened legal action if we failed to accept responsibility by 1st March 2005. FCC sought clarification from minister on government position regarding private agreement between MY& Sports and UK Firm (AU Plc) on Waste Management and how it might affect our take over. As usual, the government did not respond.
A proposed field trip between 14th and 10th February, 2005 by My & Sports and FCC officials to examine assets and land fill sites before take over did not materialize as MY & Sports minister and officials failed to show up at agreed Works Yard site. FCC conducted independent assessment. Result-: all vehicles skip bins etc. had been comprehensively cannibalized.
Following further consultations GoSL finally agreed in principle to comply with all requests bullet-pointedon Page 7 above – commencing with an immediate Le250mio release as token of commitment. FCC accepted responsibility by 15th. March, 2005.
Within 4 months of taking over the assignment, the IDA/World Bank Task Team commented thus on Page 3 of their Aide-Memoire dated 25th. July, 2005. “…..The mission noted with pleasure the improved cleaniness in the city since the mission’s last visit and complimented the Mayor on this achievement, despite the shortage and poor shape of the equipment handed over by the Ministry of Youths and Sports”
Throughout 2005 out of Le980mio committed, only Le462mio was paid to FCC for Solid Waste up to 20th December, 2005. The Le663mio Cabinet recommendation has been withheld to this day and no effort made by then to sign the subsidiary agreement.
Total amount received by FCC for Solid Waste management throughout 2006 was Le406mio. Amount paid over to National Security Office and FCC Chief Administrator for one-day March 25th. City-wide cleaning was Le100mio, whilst amount paid over direct to GTZ from consolidated fund last November, 2006 to clean the city prior to the Consultative Group meeting and Prince Charles’ visit was US$20k.
On recommendation from IDA/World Bank Task Team, CEMMATS were contracted to provide work plans for 4 – 6 months “Interim/Short Term City Cleaning” against $400 funding. IDA/World Bank team accepted CEMMATS work plans but rejected consultancy rates of pay. Work again placed into abeyance as CEMMATS would not revise consultancy costs downwards.
Interventions by State Lodge recommended meetings between J.O.Benjamin, S.Brima & Mayor to discuss funding possibilities to enhance city environmental hygiene. The very first and only meeting with John Benjamin aborted as the thrust was to take over, instead of financing FCC activity. On pressure from H.E, an additional Le100mio was paid to FCC by 21st. December, – thus taking total amount received for 2005 to Le562mio.
By mid 2005 I had successfully concluded arrangements with Kingston-upon-Hull City Council, UK for a fleet of 4 compactors (sanitation Vehicles) – with full freight of GBP20,000 borne by Hull City Council. Our request for customs duty waiver to a government that purportedly cares for the environmental needs of its citizens was initially declined. “The Duty Waiver and Permit Committee noted that the Freetown City Council does not fall under the category of those entitled to duty-free concessions and accordingly recommended that the permit be denied on the vehicle in question” (Ref-: MF-REV/100/62/01) from Financial secretary. So even where they could not provide the resources, they were disdainful of the fact that we could have done it without their efforts and were going to punish us for that – to the detriment of the electorate. Duty-free clearance was achieved two months later after much persistence.
The minutes of another meeting convened 13th January, 2006 at the President’s request in Sidikie Brima’s office aptly blamed persistent and deliberate government short financing of FCC as a major constraint which the minister promised to raise up with his colleague at finance ministry. He never did, nor did he even bother to sign copies of the document forwarded for our files.
Apart from short financing the FCC into incapacity, the government also spared no effort to threaten those willing to complement FCC’s efforts 
  even where they have been paid to provide the services. For example, the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) recalled their four (4) heavy duty trucks and loader equipment rented and already fueled by FCC for an operation on what they confirmed were “…orders from above. More recently, a haulage and construction enterprise was forced to also stop renting equipment to FCC for fear of being sidelined from government contracts. Prior to government re-taking the Solid Waste functions, no one risked partnering with FCC except in the dead of night 
  for fear of being branded APC.
Following revisions of the closing date to access the IDA/World Bank $2mio grants, several meetings were held subsequently at State Lodge and Local Government Ministry in which FCC insisted on GoSL executing the much delayed Subsidiary Agreement making FCC the implementing agency of the Waste Management component under development Credit 3945-SL – an IDA/World Bank pre-condition for release of the US$2mio grant.
In one meeting at Ministry of Local Govt. again convened at the behest of the President, S.Brima, A.R.Turay and J.B Dauda appealed to me to prevail on CEMMATS to accept lower consultancy rates “in the interest of the country”. CEMMATS conceded, but GoSL again failed to follow up words with deeds.
That Subsidiary Agreement was eventually duly executed 9th August, 2006.
Prior to that date FCC, with consent of Joe Kallon, Deputy Minister of Finance and World Bank Country Manager I sent a letter to MoF requesting an extension of the Sep.1st. 2006 deadline date for the formation of the Freetown Solid Waste Management Company. That letter was not replied to, nor has that request been considered.
Also, even though they promised to do so, the MoF deliberately failed to provide SALWACO, the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) with a copy of the Subsidiary Agreement – on which basis a previous agreement signed between FCC and SALWACO dated 6th. April, 2006 should have become effective.
In none of the Aide Memoirs of the IDA/World Bank prior to Sept 2006 was any reference made to the German Technical Co-operation Team – GTZ. A detailed analysis of their proposals for Councillors’ recommendation is reproduced below and captioned “GoSL/FCC/GTZ Waste Management Partnership Plan and Mayor’s Personal Concerns and Guidance for Councillors’ Considerations”
Also when promising to provide FCC with 5 – 8 expected trucks and buses from Libya, H.E the President never made reference to GTZ collaboration. Nor did he ever make reference to GTZ during our morning meeting of 5th September, 2006 to discuss handing over of the Libyan trucks and buses to FCC during the week – without pre-conditions.
It was after that meeting that the H.E President called me later in the evening to express regret that because of new developments, the Minister of Presidential Affairs will be writing to apprise me of a new date for the handing over of the trucks and buses to FCC.
In a letter dated 6th September, 2006 and captioned “REVISION OF OFFER OF SANITATION EQUIPMENT”, Presidential Affairs Minister Dr.Sheku Sesay stated that because the President had received indication of FCC’s reluctance to participate in a proposed institutional arrangement to clean Freetown, they were pursuing alternative arrangements excluding FCC. My next day’s reply sought information as to how and in what manner FCC’s reluctance was assessed by, or communicated to H.E. the President, but I again received no reply. By Thursday of that week, all other Local Councils were invited to the inspection of the vehicles – except the FCC
The GoSL has failed to ensure GTZ adherence to an agreement made at our mutual meeting with H.E. the President at the Lodge and subsequently at the ministry of Local Government, that “ownership, management and control” should be vested in the FCC. GTZ further failed to consult with FCC in the identification and training of the various Youth Groups, and instead of restricting themselves to training and the provision of basic tools such as wheelbarrows, masks, gloves, shovels, and rakes, they now want to co-sign on FC account. The whole episode now reeks of an attempt to include the cleaning of Freetown under Vice President Berewa’s SLPP Youth Employment Scheme – which dream he knew will never be actualized if the grants came under FCC control.
Whilst FCC was open in nominating its own members to the GTZ-Task Team, we neither knew who their own nominations were, nor were we consulted on the proposed door-to-door refuse collection fees structure. GTZ were going it alone – no doubt with instructions from the GoSL who in late November released $20k direct to them as “start -up funds” to begin the “Klin Salone” project.
The GTZ is a willing and compliant tool and the GoSL was never sincere about facilitating release of the IDA/World Bank $2mio grants for which we had long signed a Subsidiary Agreement. Otherwise the MoF should have sent copies to the local PIU (SALWACO) and the IDA/World Bank to expedite release. Besides if they had no ulterior motive, the GTZ should have been located within Council’s premises rather than at State Lodge as the Hon. Ernest Bai Koroma evidently verified himself.
Apart from the $20k start-up funds released to them direct from the Consolidated Fund without reference to this Council, GTZ are also seeking $600 over a period of 5 months (see document reproduced below captioned “Immediate Funding Needs Of The Freetown Waste Management System”) to undertake the very same Freetown “Interim Solid Waste” programme that CEMMATS had valued at under US$350k. The GoSL is insisting that unless we work with GTZ, the IDA/World bank will not release the $2mio. They however failed to produce the relevant correspondence that a sovereign independent nation cannot access its legitimately contracted Development Grants without prior overt intervention of a foreign donor agency.
Per their letter of 19th December, 2006 requesting FCC to nominate a representative to the “Klin Salone Steering Committee, it was clear GTZ and not FCC was in charge of “management, supervision and control”.
Withdrawal of the solid waste functions from the FCC though an abrogation of Sec.97 (6) of the Local Government Act is “a blessing in disguise”, because the remedial or corrective measures and procedures in Sec.97 (a) to (d) were not followed. Otherwise the GoSL would have known that the very reason for the FCC not being able to “perform adequately” was purely because the government has over the years been persistently and deliberately under-funding us into incapacity.
By refusing to support FCC whilst at the same time agreeing to provide GTZ with $20k was totally anachronistic to good governance and sound democratic values. Obviously GTZ would equally not have been able to perform without the massive financial input of US$600,000 contemplated from the government over a period of five months. The question now is why would the GoSL prefer direct financial intervention to GTZ over and above a duly elected Local Council?
The deceitfulness of government’s intentions are clearly seen in the fact that in abusing Sec.97 (6) of the Local Government Act, there is no attempt to correct the “lying” deficiency in Council by developing our capacities, nor was any ministry or department consulted to do so. The function was withdrawn indefinitely, contrary to sec. 97 (7).
GoSL/FCC/GTZ WASTE MANEGEMENT PARTNERSHIP PLAN AND MAYOR’S PERSONAL CONCERNS AND GUIDANCE FOR COUNCILLOR’S CONSIDERATIONS
UNDATED GTZ AUGUST CONCEPT PAPER
GTZ aware of perennial problems regarding logistics, collection, disposal and government’s deliberate efforts to stifle Council and admitted “…. Collection can be hindered by shortages of public funds”
*Youth Employment focus through groups engaged in Solid Waste Management under an “umbrella organization” to create self-employment potentials for marginalized, unemployed and uneducated youths whose numbers in the Western Urban areas continue to multiply even long after the war.
Opportunities for revenues generation through private house to house garbage collection on fees basis, sorting at landfill sites for potential buyers of saleable refuse and wastes recycling.
*Guidelines and operating procedures will be introduced by “umbrella organization” for interested individual youth groups to be registered within the scheme.
*Umbrella Organization/Association already created with its own constitution and called “Klin Salone” and is seeking “recognition” by the authorities
GTZ is committing no funds, but will muster expertise to-: • *Train all youth groups for 2-4 months in waste collection (42 groups initially, whilst another 28 youth groups are collecting city wide data), sorting, disposal services in accordance with standard guidelines, MANAGE THEIR FINANCES AND ACTIVITIES AND ENGAGE SUBSCRIBERS. They will also provide basic equipments like gloves, masks, push carts, shovels, and aprons for hygienic purposes.
• *Redesigns dumpsites to include access roads and sorting areas
• *Eventually phase out direct support to youth groups and will leave exercise to them for continuity.
GTZ EXPLANATORY LETTER – DATED 16TH. OCTOBER, 2006
• Rehabilitation of Works Yard buildings, Workshop, Garage and Compound
• *Rehabilitation of 18 out of 28 vehicles and generators parked in compound
• Provision of Management Plan
• Logistics Plan for 8 vehicles from Govt.
• Logistics Plan for 18 post- rehabilitated vehicles and generators
• Operational Plan
• *Submission of a 6-month “Emergency Cleaning” Budget/Financial Plan through GoSL of the FCC to the World Bank for funding
• Preparation of concept document for long term Municipal Waste Management Authority
• *GTZ and THW are offering consultancy services “free of charge”
GTZ NOTE OF APOLOGY FOR GoSL, FCC & WORLD BANK – 20/11/06
• * CG visitors meting by 28/11 is key reason for accelerating “Emergency Cleaning” operations
• *8 new trucks from Govt could not be handed to FCC because “..there was no operational plan or budget for their management”
• Because DFID input to rehabilitate King Tom landfill site will be delayed, GTZ will continue managing dumpsites with existing bulldozer
• *Clearance of Works Yard an imperative so that 8 new trucks can be transferred there and made operational “…if the corresponding budget is made available”
SUMMARY OF GTZ PROPOSAL DOCUMENT – 20/11/02 • For successful 5-month emergency operations, Works Yard 2 to be rehabilitated to facilitate management of 8 new trucks and bulldozer pending DFID King Tom landfill rehabilitation
• *Design long term waste management plan based on private enterprise logic for the municipality as a compromise between “a local Authority” and the IDA/World Bank “Freetown Solid Waste Management Company” concepts
• *Immediate of $20,000 by GoSL to GTZ to commence city cleaning operations with the 8 new trucks by 23rd. November.
GTZ IMMEDIATE FUNDING NEEDS FOR 5-MONTH EMERGENCY CLEANING
1. Rehabilitation of Works Yard – $78,000.00 Le231,268,200 2. Works Yard equipment Procurement $132,254.24 390,150,000 3. Cleaning of entire Works Yard $ 15,000.00 44,604,000 4. Rehabilitation of FCC Vehicles/Gen $129,622.03 382,385,000 5. Rehabilitation of Bulldozer $ 8,614.75 25,413,500 6. Functional Bulldozer Plan/Trailer $ 36,020.34 106,260,000 7. Salaries 241 Staff $ 88,559.32 261,260,000 8. Maintenance of 8 Trucks x Months $ 97,840.10 288,628,300 9. Utility/Incidental Costs $ 12,855.93 37,925,000 (Totals USD599,282.71 / SLL1,767,884.00)
“The cleaning of Works Yard (Annex 3) will cost US$15,000, the total cost of the rehabilitation of its buildings and workshops is US$78,000 (Annex1). The functioning and maintaining of 8 trucks during the five months emergency phase is $115,000 (Annexes 8 & 8A). The utility bill for Works Yard 11 during 5 months is US$8,000 (Annex 9). The costs of rehabilitation and functioning of the bulldozer (which is needed to arrange the two final dump sites during the emergency phase) is about US$65,000 (Annexes 5 & 6). The staff salaries for the entire Waste Management Unit would be covered during 5 months by a sum of US$89,000 (Please find the details in Annex 10)
The amount needed to start the operations this week is about $20,000 to $30,000.
The amount needed in order to create the pre-conditions for a functional Waste Management System in the next few weeks (cleaning and rehabilitation of Works Yard 11) is US$93,000 – plus the cost of acquiring the basic maintenance equipment for the workshop $132,000.
The amount needed to cover the functioning costs of 8 trucks and a bulldozer for five months is US$188,000. The amount needed to cover the staff salary costs for five months is US$89,000
In order to make the Waste Management System function up to the creation of the “Authority” described in the proposal within a period of 5 months, a global amount (including all the above mentioned figures) 0f US$600,000 would be needed. This amount is not to be considered as “costs of consumption” but rather as an investment in the rehabilitation of the Waste Managemen System which should at the moment of handing it over to the “Authority” be able of generating income in an orderly way”
*P.13-: The financial resources for the emergency phase can be managed by the “Task Force”, with the assistance of GTZ under the supervision of the FCC and GoSL according to a transparent procedure to be agreed upon between the IDA/World Bank, GoSL,FCC and GTZ
P.14.3 -: Stakeholders Responsibilities *- GoSL: Adoption of proposals, negotiations with the IDA/World Bank for release of funding for emergency phase and membership of supervisory body
*- FCC: Adoption of proposals, selection of “Task Force” members, authorization, membership of supervisory body, weekly monitoring, planning and implementation
*- IDA/W/Bank: Funding and membership of supervisory body
*- GTZ: Technical Assistance to “Task Force” and monitoring and evaluation
*P.14.4 -: Rehabilitation budget for 16 vehicles and 2 Generators recommended to be placed in abeyance??
MAYOR’S PERSONAL CONCERNS AND GUIDANCE FOR COUNCILLORS’ CONSIDERATION
1. UNDATED GTZ AUGUST CONCEPT PAPER The concept is excellent, (even though the concerns and constraints highlighted by GTZ are not new and have been discussed several times in the past) but its application would appear to be eroding the basis for our acceptance, which is that overall management, supervision and control of both the “Emergency” and “Long Term” municipal waste management plans must be vested in the FCC.
For a start, FCC readily embraced the GTZ concept and even easily nominated its complement to the “Task Force”, but we still do not know (as the Local Authority) the GTZ personnel attached to the force. Besides, our representatives to the Task Force were not given any mandate to act for and on behalf of FCC, but simply to represent and report back to Council for appropriate guidance before decisions are arrived at.
FCC was neither consulted nor engaged in the identification of the engagement of the 42 Youth Groups to be trained (for between 2-4 months) initially, or in the identification and engagement of the 28 Youth Groups in city wide data collection. Have the skills trainings commenced or completed? Most of the Youth Groups listed by GTZ are synonymous with MYNCOS/Haroun Sankoh, wholesomely pro-SLPP or Junta or simply no longer exist. Councils’ involvement is crucial to ensure the full potentials of Ward Committees and exploited.
Council was further not engaged or consulted in arriving at a suitable designate appellation for the project. How was the name “Klin Salone” arrived at for a project that will not impact beyond the Western Urban municipality? Why were we not consulted on the mater of drafting and or implementing a “constitution” for the umbrella organization that will be supervising all Youth Organizations engaged in the project? Who is the proper authority to “recognize’ the umbrella organization? The FCC whose statutory functions is solid waste management and is supposed to manage, supervise and control the project, or the GoSL?
On completion of the 5-month “emergency phase” and “implementation of the subscription-based collection and sales of sorted waste systems, GTZ will phase out of the project, leaving continuity to the umbrella organization. By that process, FCC would have been exited finally from performing its statutory role, Why?
2. GTZ EXPLANATORY UPDATES LETTER – DATED 16TH. OCTOBER, 2006
The overall amount required under this caption is almost twice what CEMMATS contracted for the same job PLUS rehabilitation of the King Tom landfill site.
The initial government reason for not releasing the trucks to FCC was because they wanted GTZ to first rehabilitate 16 vehicles and the 2 generators at the Works Yard, so that operationalisation can be robust with a fleet of 24 vehicles (16 rehabilitated and 8 new from govt.). But we are seeing now that repairs to all broken down vehicles and generators will not be first undertaken before release of the 8 new vehicles to GTZ. What is it that is motivating this government’s preference for GTZ – a foreign NGO – over a legally constituted local Authority? (See ensuing commentary)
In terms of Sec.23 of the Local Government Act of 2004, all Inter-Service, Donor NGOs/CBOs are obliged (and without waiting to be prompted) to consult and partner directly with the Local Authority in their areas of operations. They must not usurp the authority of the Local Authority.
The situation is further compounded by the fact that initially, GTZ did not have and were not making any financial input into the project and their involvement was restricted to youth mobilization and advice and provision of basic equipments like gloves, masks, push carts, shovels, aprons to hygienic purposes. How come they have suddenly been transformed into IDA/World bank Fund Managers on behalf of FCC?
What do GTZ mean by submission of a 6-month “Emergency Cleaning” Budget/Financial Plan through GoSL of the FCC to the World Bank for funding? We signed a subsidiary agreement with GoSL on 8th August identifying FCC as the new implementers of the Development Credit (SL-3945) component dealing with Waste Management of $2mio. What is the status of that agreement? Why has the Ministry of Finance (MoF) refused to make a copy of that agreement available to Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO), the recognized IDA/World Bank Project implementation Unit (PIU)? In the absence of any correspondence canceling that agreement, the only competent body to authorize funding release is the FCC. So how and why should the 6-month “Emergency Cleaning” budget /Financial Plan have to go through GoSL, instead of World Bank PIU (SALWACO)?
In all this, we are told the GTZ and THW are offering “free consultancy” services for which we should be very grateful. If true, then we have no need continuing with the World Bank Pricewaterhouse/Coopers/DHV consultants who as at 31st. July 2006 had already “overpaid” themselves $189,227.80 (Ref. Page 4 of SLPWP -Water Component – Third Post-Contract Supervision Mission (Sept4 – 11/06) Reception Report)
In view of the thankfully free consultancy expected from GTZ, the relationship with Pricewaterhouse/Coopers/DHV needs to be automatically reviewed and exited, both for prudent economic reasons and to avoid unnecessary duplication of activities and information. An immediate stock must be taken of what percentage of the bulk $2mio committed for Solid Waste Management under the Power & Water Project has already been utilized by the IDA/World bank consultants, and what exactly is left for use, so we can better appropriate the residue under the GTZ approach. But there is no way both can go together and GoSL must clarify this status.
3. GTZ NOTE OF APOLOGY FOR GoSL, FCC & WORLD BANK – 20/11/06
For over two years now GoSL has deliberately and persistently under-funded us into incapacity – no matter what the situation or circumstances. In March GoSL instructed Office of National Security (ONS) to override our administrative controls and organized a rather botched one-day city-wide cleaning for a budget of over Le100mio. As at close of business 30th November we had only received 49% of the annualized pre-devolution support of Le980,000,000 from MoF for the same purpose.
But let us carefully consider the following contradictions-:
GTZ are saying Consultative Group (CG) visitors meeting by 28/11/06 is key reason for accelerating “Emergency Cleaning” operations and demanded $20,000 down payment from GoSL which was promptly released from the Consolidated Fund without reference or information to FCC. Why was this amount not paid directly into FCC (Solid Waste Management Account) who in terms of our understanding are supposed to “manage, supervise & control” all GTZ operations?
GTZ are saying GoSL did not hand over the 8 new trucks to FCC because “…..there was no operational plan or budget for their management”. But how come that GTZ were so quickly able to influence release of those same trucks even without evidence of operational plan or budget? What documentary evidence exists to show that we as a Council (FCC) have authorized GTZ to manage releases of World Bank funding in respect of our Solid Waste Management Project to them?
Is it not interesting to note that instead of focusing on the rehabilitation of the 16 vehicles as originally proposed, GTZ are now saying that clearance of the Works Yard of all derelict vehicle is a pre-condition for the 8 new trucks to be transferred there “….if the corresponding budget is made available”?
4. SUMMARY OF GTZ PROPOSAL DOCUMENT – 20/11/02
The IDA/World Bank have always been firm in their request for the formation of a Solid Waste Management Company as the preferred long term solution. Are they now comfortable with the compromise management plan “…based on private enterprise logic for the municipality under a local “Authority”? We need to see evidence of this acceptance, particularly as we know that at the end of the 5-month “emergency cleaning” period, GTZ plans to phase out of the project, leaving continuity to the umbrella organization. (See above)
The immediate release of $20,000 direct to GTZ (on demand) to commence the “emergency cleaning” programme instead of into FCC Account and without reference to FCC is both disturbing and counter-productive. The result is that instead of us working together as a unified force and for the same purpose, GTZ staffs are doling out funds to FCC “Task Force” members for activities we had already provided for financially. And this does not show that we are truly in charge.
5. GTZ IMMEDIATE FUNDING NEEDS 5-MONTH EMERGENCY CLEANING
The total amount GTZ are requesting ($600k) is twice what the IDA/World Bank Task Team Leader Moes refused to countenance from CEMMATS, stating among other reasons that their rates of pay quoted were not for Africans. Even without FCC exiting its responsibilities under the subsidiary agreement with GoSL/MoF, on what basis will they release funds previously meant for us to GTZ?
Management of the financial resources by the “Task Force” as proposed by GTZ is unacceptable. We agree to proceed according to transparent procedure to be agreed upon between the IDA/World Bank, GoSL,FCC and GTZ, but the “Task Force” should be reporting to FCC, not control its resources (Ref. Page 13) and even GTZ should be directly responsible to Council/FCC not State Lodge.
On the basis of the “authority” conferred under the subsidiary agreement, it is FCC that should be negotiating with the IDA/World Bank for releases of funding for emergency phase, not GoSL (Ref Page.14.3)
GTZ suggestion (Ref. Page 14.4), to place rehabilitation budget for 16 vehicles and 2 Generators in abeyance is unacceptable because it was their acclaimed resourcefulness to address such malaise to boost the fleet that enticed GoSL to take them onboard. It should be noted that one main reason for IDA/World Bank refusing to consider funds release (at whatever amount) was because of an inability to generate additional funds to either rehabilitate derelict vehicles or procure second-hand ones to complement efficiency. So how can they now choose to set that aside?
In summary, I see the whole GTZ influence as a deliberate GoSL policy to rob us APC-led FCC of our right to perform purely for political reasons. But if you choose to work with GTZ the following are to be clarified/agreed to in addition to all other concerns raised above -: • All drawings from IDA/World Bank or Consolidated Funds must be paid into our FCC Solid Waste Management Account for our management and control • FCC must be involved in the entire recruitment process of the 241 “emergency cleaning” staff apart from those that will ultimately be involved in the long term FSWMC plan • GoSL to clarify status of subsidiary agreement for $2mio.- and how much spent to date. • GoSL to provide documentary evidence to support their statement that the IDA/World Bank will not proceed with the project under FCC control unless we take GTZ on board. • GTZ to resume operations within FCC purview – not from State Lodge.
Let me finally refresh your memories on recent FCC/GTZ relationship. In July 2004, they proposed to partner with FCC in the implementation of an EUR1mio (US$1.2mio) 18-month Youths/Street Kids Rehabilitation Project. Our genuine and valid questions of that project remain unanswered to this day, but the rancour, bitterness and division that reigned in our council, engendered by their decision to instead relocate the project to the Western Rural District Council at Waterloo were lasting. As at now, even 6-months after the project completion date of 30th. June, 2006, there is virtually no evidence of their input in terms of the positive impact of that project on that locality. There is also word on their failed USD$14.5mio Rural Electrification Project.
A word to the wise…………and we should therefore tread cautiously to ensure that management, supervision and control of the entire solid waste management projects (both short and long term) remains vested in FCC.
MAYOR’S RSPONSE TO SIDIKIE BRIMA’S REQUEST OF 14TH. DECEMBER TO OPERATE ACCOUNT WITH GTZ. MAY/MLGCD/12 14th. December, 2006 Mr. Sidikie Brima Minister of Local Government & Community Development 6th Floor, Youyi Buildings, Brookfields, Freetown.
Dear Minister Brima,
MUNICIPAL WASTE MANAGEMENT – GoSL/FCC/GTZ
I have discourteously not been favoured with a copy of Dr. Nour’s most recent report about me, but it would appear you are not abreast with developments.
I had a rather long and frank telephone discussion with Dr. Sheku Sesay on the matter in which I amply and succinctly clarified my position which is still unchanged. And it is that as the Mayor of this municipality, I will not under any circumstances voluntarily operate any joint account funded from the Consolidated Fund and in whatever name, for purposes related to the execution of statutorily devolved functions which as a government, you are obliged to continuously fund at pre-devolution levels up to and including the year 2008.
As you are no doubt aware, it is well beyond your remit as a policy maker to impose signatories upon this duly elected Council. It is also administratively irregular for unrecognized third parties to operate this Council’s accounts. Nor am I authorized within the context of my responsibilities to operate third party accounts for Council purposes. You may therefore wish to clarify as to why, and in what capacity you are insisting that Dr. Nour should be taken on board to manage funds clearly intended for municipal solid waste management, a core responsibility of this Council.
If it is related to the eventual management of “Other Tied Grants” type of account which might require inclusion of donor’s signatories, then I have no aversion to that. But where the funds are coming from the Consolidated Fund, then it is the regular signatories of this Council that will apply. Government funds are not intended to be controlled by a Foreign NGO resource, and I am not aware of any arrangement by which a special account should be opened.
Let me remind you that in all previous discussions with the government regarding GTZ input, the consensus has always been that overall management, supervision and control of the project must be vested in the FCC. We are appreciative of the excellent ideas proposed by Dr. Nour and anxiously await your release of the Le1.7 billion Leones 5-month budgetary support contemplated (through our books of course) to actualize her short term goals. If however Dr, Nour cannot work with FCC until and unless she controls or signs over Council’s account and you feel so desperately that the exercise cannot succeed unless we so concede, then I regret my inability to progress further.
As our supervising minister, you are no doubt fully siesed of the fact that as with all other devolved activities, we do have a Solid Waste Management Tied Grant Account No. 1013401 in the books of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank Ltd, into which all funding and subventions from the Consolidated Fund should be paid and I will respectfully suggest that you pay the local counter value of the $20,000 into that account without delay.
As the Chief Executive of this Council, I am sure you would appreciate that, it is of much greater concern to me (more than anyone else) to expeditiously address the environmental health and sanitation needs of the citizens of my municipality. I shall therefore be most obliged if you can reconsider your stance and for once be seen to be supportive of this Councils in line with your obligation.
Ideally you may wish to alternatively relieve FCC of this onerous, persistently explosive and politically manipulated issue of cleaning Freetown by ceding it entirely to GTZ or work directly with other resource within this Council. But as a matter of principles, your approach is wrong and constitutes an abrogation of the statutes which regrettably I cannot subscribe to and in the process betray the electorate.
Meantime let me take this opportunity to enquire about the status of the following-:
• The US$2mio Subsidiary Agreement between FCC and GoSL (executed 8th August 2006 between the Mayor of Freetown and the Minister of Finance) confirming FCC as the implementing partner of the Solid Waste component in WB/IDA D-C SL 3945
• A Subsidiary Agreement between FCC and SALWACO dated 6th. April, 2006 (which became effective on the date of execution of the above agreement between FCC and MoF) confirming our acceptance of SALWACO as the PIU in respect of the above intended project.
It would appear that both above documents (copies attached) which were supposed to have been forwarded to the IDA/World Bank for their “no objection” responses to expedite resolution of the emergency and long term municipal waste management needs of my city have since been placed in abeyance. Your urgent advises as appropriate for the benefit of my council will be highly appreciated.
In conveying my highest considerations, please accept my sincere wishes for a Merry Christmas and a bright and prosperous 2007.
Cllr. Winstanley.R.Bankole.Johnson
MAYOR
Copy-: H.E The President Alhaji Dr.Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
Hon. Vice President Mr. Solomon. E. Berewa
Hon. Minister for Presidential Affairs

 

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