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Kailahun residents highlight priorities to Gov’t reps

By Mustapha Sheriff

Stakeholders in Kailahun District have agreed to prioritize roads, health and electricity as the felt-needs of residents in the district. The prioritization came about as the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development embarks on a Citizens’ Centred Approach ahead of the implementation of the Medium Term National Development Plan.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendation on section 248 says that for many years, successive governments have failed to meet the basic needs of most Sierra Leoneans, particularly those outside of Freetown. The present Government and future governments must be seen to be establishing infrastructure and delivering health, education, justice and security services in all Provinces.

Even before the start of the civil war, public service delivery had ground to a halt in much of the country. The war devastated public infrastructure and almost totally emasculated government's ability to deliver services to the people. Most Sierra Leoneans do not have access to clean water or consistent power supply.

Minister of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED), Dr. Francis Kai-Kai informed stakeholders at the Kailahun District Council Hall that they deemed it necessary to engage the people at the centre in providing strategic direction and systematically track outputs of every developmental initiatives and transformation before the full implementation of the Medium Term National Development Plan,.

Kailahun District stakeholders representing every sector in development unanimously agreed to priority, Roads, Health and Energy as the key sectors of attention the New Direction Government should consider during the implementation period.

Dr. Kai-Kai said government’s desire is to put the citizens at the centre for every development process within the country. He stated that it is the responsibility of every stakeholder including Government, Local Council, Development Partners, among others to implement the MTNDP in the district.

Minister Kai-Kai noted that for every district development structure to be effective, there needs to be a holistic coordination and monitoring throughout the implementation of plans.

Delivering the overview of the process, Deputy Minister of Planning, Dr. Robert Chakanda said the journey to prepare the plan started over a year ago with wide consultations across the sixteen (16) districts nationwide. According to him, the plan drew a lot of direction from the New Direction Agenda of President Bio’s government, which he reemphasized is people-centred.

Presenting the District Priorities, Paramount Chief Mohamed Sama Kailondo Banya IV stated that the people of Kailahun where clear on their views with the development priorities and that government should consider it as the key developmental aspirations of residents. He said the people will continue to support government in delivering on its development aspirations throughout the proposed implementation period.

Also speaking, Kailahun District Council Chairman, Sahr A.K. Lamin, underscored the importance of the engagement in the district. He said such process demonstrated government’s seriousness about its development aspirations and commitment to leaving no one behind in the actualization of the New Direction Agenda.

Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Dr. David Moinina Sengeh, re-echoed the government’s continued commitment to providing Free and Quality Education for all. He called on stakeholders in the district to join government in eliminating makeshift schools in the district, commit to tackling exams malpractice and ending teenage pregnancy, especially against under aged pupils.

In her statement, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Mamadi Gobeh Kamara, applauded what she described as the district's resilience in the COVID-19 fight. She reaffirmed President Bio’s commitment in improving the information and communications infrastructure in the country, noting the recent repeal of the 1965 Criminal Libel Law, which she maintained had eluded past governments. Madam Gobeh Kamara disclosed the pending commencement of phase 2 of the fibre optic cable connection worth over 30 million dollars and assured that Kailahun would be one of the districts to benefit from it.

Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Melrose Kargbo called on every stakeholder in Kailahun to support the plan, adding that the authorities should take ownership of the plan to ensure effective service delivery. She stated that the recent increase in the incentives and salaries for Mayors/Chairmen and Councillors and now Paramount Chiefs across the country was a manifestation of government’s continued commitment to Human Capital Development.

Section 253 says that “The Commission recognises that this exercise is an enormous undertaking and makes no particular recommendations as to how it should happen. That expertise rests with those involved in the programme.’’ The Commission recommends that the Government consider certain core principles when building local government and reviving institutions such as District Councils.

This article is produced with support from MRCG through the ATJLF project on: "Engaging the media to change the narrative on Transitional Justice (TJ) issues in Sierra Leone".

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