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TIMBER TRADE IN SHAMBLE ..agent battles with $500.000 Scandal

Mr. Babardie Kamara, the political appointee of the timber trade in Sierra Leone is a disappointment to the New Direction Administration of retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio. Whilst the New Direction may have thought that Mr. Babardie Kamara would be of significant use in generating foreign exchange through the sale and exportation of timber products, he has unfortunately become a liability to the trade and using the appointment to live a luxurious life. Unarguably, he has rendered the trade unproductive and impotent. Since the emergence of the New Direction and the subsequent appointment of Mr. Babardie Kamara as the sole agent to manage the timber business, the trade has hit the rocks with piles of timber products lying idle at the various locations from Hastings to Kailahun with nothing coming to the Central Government.

Reports state that the New Direction timber appointee is battling to save his neck from an alleged US$500,000 paid to him by Mr. Zhou Guofu via a Chinese woman resident in Sierra Leone. The shock and disillusionment experienced after releasing the alleged US$500,000 to facilitate the timber business with no returns received has left the Chinese timber magnate in a state of dilemma, with decision not to release a single dollar until returns from the money released are received. When the ban was lifted and a committee set up to probe the Trade, it did not execute a thorough investigation into the Trade. On 25th June 2018, the Minister convened a meeting inviting about seven Exporters at the Ministry’s Conference Room. The meeting was chaired by the Deputy Minister of Trade and Mr. Bon Wurie representing State House, the Chief Director of Trade and other Senior Officials at the Ministry of Trade and Industry. At the meeting, the Minister reassured the Exporters that they will be permitted to export their remaining quotas which they had produced, but unable to export under the former regime. It was after the meeting that a press release described by many as controversial was issued out whereby one Babardie Kamara of Leadway Enterprises as the sole Agent for Government to export the already harvested Timber was released. Mr. Barbadie Kamara has never ventured into the timber, nor has he a timber depot. No reference was made to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry or Ministry of Trade and Industry, the statutory bodies. Since the issuance of the controversial press Release not a single container of timber has been shipped out of the Country. Under normal circumstances more than 5,000 containers would have been shipped, but sources say it is now done in a clandestine manner in a way that is described as benefitting few individuals. The situation faced by the timber exporters and producers have been an embarrassment to many of them. Some have lost millions of dollars and job creations have remained unpredictable. Many youths that were self employed are now jobless and consequently cannot provide foods and livelihoods for their children and loved ones. Mr. Babardie Kamara is not only a novice in the trade, but has refused to collaborate with others that are very knowledgeable in the business. So the Government is losing huge foreign exchange earnings that could have been used to stabilize other areas that are badly in need of funds.(More to come)

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