Freetown’s Mayor To Face Huge Challenges
The Newly Elected All People’s Congress (APC) Mayor of Freetown City Council (FCC), Mrs. Denise Yvonne Aki Sawyerr is expected to face serious financial and administrative challenges when she will officially take over office.
Inside sources say, little or nothing has changed in the council since the scandalous departure of former Mayor Herbert George Williams, who stood trial for alleged misuse of council funds and was found guilty though his fine was not commensurate to the economic crime he committed.
According to the outgoing Mayor, Franklyn Sam Bode Gibson, he inherited Le20 billion unpaid debt by the council left behind by his predecessor, Herbert Williams.
Gibson’s administration lost popularity after it had confronted petty traders over street trading. The traders had argued bitterly that it was unconstitutional for the council to remove them from the streets since there were not enough markets in the municipality to accommodate all of them. They also argued that it was incumbent upon both the Government and the FCC to provide markets for them.
When the Government eventually assigned the responsibility to Bode Gibson’s administration to construct a modern market at the Sewa Grounds, the project was badly managed. Consequently, the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) decided to fund the market project which is now at its completion stage.
Also during his tenure, many financial institutions turned down the requests of the FCC for any financial support because of unpaid debts incurred by the Herbert Williams administration.
Since 2008 when residents of the municipality willingly honoured their local tax obligation, they because reluctant to pay for local tax when it dawned on them that the council was very ineffective and inefficient in carrying out its mandate despite the revenue it was accruing from taxation.
House owners also refused to respect their annual payments to council and municipals schools became a burden on parents and guardians as demands for financial tokens by teachers became the order of the day.
The FCC workers also went on protest for late payment of salaries and other emoluments and some were eventually unjustifiably fired by former Mayor Bode, who woefully failed to implement the strategic plan he published in the council magazine in 2013. Under his leadership, the metropolitan police became public enemies for confiscating goods from street traders only to sell them later instead of returning them to the traders.
Given the aforesaid problems, Mrs. Denise Yvonne Aki Sawyer will definitely face a herculean task at the council when she finally takes her seat at the Mayor’s Parlor on Wallace Johnson Street.
By Alhassan Bangura
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