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US$30,000 FOR DIRECTOR’S HOUSE RENT Whilst Workers languish for meager allowances

In June 1994 the Department of Transport and Communications in collaboration with the World Bank organized a National Road Transport policy Workshop that gave birth to the Establishment of the Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority Act No. 4 of 1996 by Parliament. This once viable institution through an Organizational and Management approach provided conducive working environment in compliance with Government policy.

SARAH

In recently times, key occurrences at the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority over the years under the administration of the Executive Director, Dr. Sarah Finda Bendu has to a large extent undermined the objectives in numerous ways.

Dr. Sarah Finda Bendu was indicted for an alleged mis-procurement of two vehicles but was subsequently cleared by the Appeal court and the contractor, Mr. Hamza Sesay was ordered by the same court to pay back the sum of Le1,200,000,000 (One Billion, Two Hundred Thousand Leones) being the cost of the two vehicles. Neither Dr. Bendu nor the court has made no effort to collect the said amount from the contractor, may be for that either the court would explain or Dr. Bendu herself.

The Executive Director on re-assumption of office in 2012 after the mentioned litigation, procured two tow and recovery trucks even though the Board had earlier directed that she should stay action on the activity until the Le.1,200,000,000 for the previous two vehicles is recovered from the contractor. These vehicles were purported to be brand new but the inspection report on the Beiben heavy duty truck displayed a mileage of 5846 km (approximately, 3,624 miles). Of concern also was that the said 2012 Beiben truck Vehicle Identification Number – LBZF56KB4CAO13356 was somehow incomplete in order to avoid authentication.

Lots of intimidations had been inflicted and are still being unleashed on staffs that are perceived as threats and whistle blowers.

Transfer of staffs to positions that are non-existent on the organ gram and far removed from tasks for which they were employed to demotivate them has become the order of the day. This practice is in violation of Section 14 (2) of the SLRTA Act No. 4 of 1996 that limits recruitment and transfers to positions for which there are vacancies and continued justification. A Management Accountant was transferred to Bo in the capacity of station Manger whilst the former Director of Administration was transferred to the Kono Regional Station as Director, Eastern Region in 2013 and the Head of Planning Division has recently been transferred to oversee the Western Area office at Pademba Road to name but a few.

Deprivation of 2015 leave and Housing allowances to selected members of staff without sufficient justification has also raised eye brows and frustrations amongst members of staff. Sources close to the Authority has disclosed that whilst depriving the other cadre of staffs with their remunerations, the Executive Director succeeded in getting the Board to pay her rent for a house rented for an amount of $30,000 USD (approximately Le.150, 000,000). This arrangement is also against the Terms and Conditions of Service governing her appointment. What is more annoying over and above is that the Executive Director has stayed action on payments of the 2015 Housing allowances of others, whilst her rent could service the entire rent allowances for the Traffic Warden Corps. It is easy to see how much attention is given to the Human resource assets of her organization with the non payments and the failure to observe key human resources obligations.

Massive misuse of public funds in procurement activities including the purchase of thirty (30) Yamaha motorcycles worth Le300,000,000 (Three Hundred Million Leones) and the utilization of Le.509,000,000 (Five Hundred and Nine Million Leones in 2013 to host the West African Road Safety Organization (WARSO) conference even though the Sierra Leone Brewery and G. Shankerdas provided drinks and water, the Sierra Leone Insurance Commission and the Rokel Commercial Bank donated Le.4,000,000 and Le.1,000,000 respectively and the World Bank took the onus of meeting the costs of rentals and interpreters. Details of these transactions are preposterous.

In the light of the unfolding occurrences, one will be left in abeyance to discern why these issues that had been flogged in previous publications have not received the attention of the relevant state actors. The public was optimistic that with the appointment of the new Board chairman Reverend Micheal Samura;   these issues could be channeled by his governing body; it is fast becoming the usual gymnastics and free-for-all. Skeptics are of the view that with the approval of a housing rent allowance of Le.150, 000,000 for the Executive Director at the expense of staff welfare, problems within this establishment will continue unabated. Can state actors save this institution from dying as a result of bad corporate governance and the protracted filibustering tactics exhibited by the Executive Director during Board sittings?

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