Roaming Pen: Wasting tax payers money: Five million weekly for cotton tree
The Freetown City Council (FCC), headed by city father Herbert George Williams, is almost always on the news spotlight for the wrong reasons.
If the council is not being lambasted for its non transparent manner in handling taxes of the citizens, it would be bashed for the thuggery undertakings of its metropolitan policemen, who continue to act more like thugs rather than the policemen they are supposed to be.
This piece intends to look into the way and manner in which the Freetown City Council continues to waste tax payersâ€™ money with impunity, with emphasis on the five million Leones that is being spent weekly on the cotton tree.
Irrespective of the fact that metropolitan police and other city council officials go to the extent of molesting and even beat up peaceful citizens in their desperate quest to collect various taxes, it is sad to note the reality that these monies are being spent under questionable circumstances.
It is no secret that tax payers monies are being spent on frivolities and the need to correct these irregularities, if only the citizens are to continue to pay their taxes, cannot be overemphasized.
Tax monies are supposed to benefit the tax payers but tax payers of the Freetown Municipality are experiencing a total reverse of this concept.
What is widely being trumpeted by the Freetown City Council to be a beautification of the city drive is gradually turning out to be nothing other than a waste of tax payersâ€™ money.
The Freetown City Council started to exhibit its lack of competence to handle monies of the citizens when it decided to invest a whopping sum of tax payers money in what was later to be branded as a Chinese Clock (The Clock Tower).
The FCC invested in a ‘fake’ clock at the expense of urgent needs including but not limited to the provision of market places for thousand of petty traders that flood the streets of the Freetown Municipality.
The least said about that investment the better, as it started experiencing breakdowns only two days after it was commissioned.
It graduated from the clock tower mess to the construction of cemetery-like flower pots and poorly constructed dumping sites (dust bins) across the city.
Most of these dump sites and flower pots that resembles graveyards started experiencing cracks even before they are completed.
Instead of beautifying and sanitizing the city, these investments of which millions, if not billions, of tax payers monies are spent, are turning out to be the opposite of what is being trumpeted.
The investments of the FCC are lending credence to the popular saying: â€œMoney is in abundance but the challenge remains how to spend itâ€. What a shame!
Whilst some of us continue to advocate for transparency and accountability in the operations of the FCC, others prefer the silence of the Council.
Those who prefer for the FCC to keep seal lips on its spending argue that they are always devastated whenever the Council decides to announce the whopping sums it spends on frivolities.
An example of the irritating city council disclosure was the recent pronouncement of Mayor Herbert George Williams on the upkeep of the Cotton Tree.
Mayor Herbert George Williams was quoted in local tabloids as saying the Freetown City Council is spending (wasting) over Le5,000,000 (Five Million Leones) on a weekly basis to maintain electricity and keep the cotton tree fountains working. Yes, five million Leones per week for cotton tree alone.
This is no news to some of us who are already aware of the wasteful manner in which the FCC splashes out monies.
The council is notorious for investing huge sums on things that have little or no impact on the taxpayers at the detriment of burning issues seeking urgent interventions.
Wasting five million Leones weekly on a cotton tree that has little or no benefit to thousands of tax payers can best be described as maladministration and insensitiveness to the wants of the citizens.
What benefit do the fountains and electricity at the cotton tree have on hundreds of blind beggars in the streets? I suppose none, but this huge sum can feed all the blind beggars in Freetown. No joke.
Children are still dropping out of schools as a result of high school charges. Why not invest these sums in constructing schools in the municipality to cater for less priviledged children?
Abacha Street and Fourah Bay Road among several other major streets in the city are still congested with petty traders at the expense of free flow of traffic and the FCC sees nothing wrong in that but prefers to worship the cotton tree with five million Leone weekly.
It will increase the number of healthy people and decrease the rate of diseases if this sum is utilized on keeping the filthy Freetown city clean.
Irrespective of the fact that the beautification of the cotton tree has some positive impact on the city, the city council should have been more alert to notice that it cannot afford to spend five million Leones of taxpayersâ€™ monies weekly on maintaining it.
I begin to wonder how much it will cost if the fountains and electricity at the cotton tree were running on a twenty four hour basis. Yes, the cotton tree equipment runs for less than twelve hours a day and swallows five million Leones per week. This is the reality and nothing but the truth.
Last year, the Freetown City Council used the cotton tree project as one of it deceptive strategies to collect taxes. FCC made believe the resources to beautify the cotton tree were coming from its pocket, only for the citizens to later learn that it was Africell that single-handedly sponsored the project. Shame on FCC! Shame!!! I just hope that this five million Leones weekly is not another tactics to rob the tax payers money.
At this point, I want to advise the FCC to desist with immediate effect from using our monies to keep a cotton tree.
It would be better for the FCC to seek the intervention of other mobile companies for the maintenance of the cotton tree. Our taxes are not for the upkeep of cotton tree. There are hundreds of other important issues seeking urgent attention.
Also, the FCC must stop bad investments for the sake of poor taxpayers.
The monies of poor Sierra Leoneans deserve better investments. Hope somebody will listen.
With Abdul Karim Kabia (Fonti), Freetown
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This is more than wasting tax payers’ money. This is criminal. Firstly everyone knows that the cotton tree isn’t so complex that it uses 5M leones worth of Electricity a week. Secondly, We all know what happened to the Clock Tower, with a clock that started falling apart just two months after it was installed. I think the ACC should come in and protect the wealth of the City and People of Freetown. The money being wasted is tax collected from hardworking class Freetoniains who willingly paid it because of the love they have for the City. Also they paid these money because they wanted it to be used in development and not for it to be wasted. No one is arguing against the fact that the cotton tree is probably the most iconic landmark in Freetown, but its beautification expenses is no way near 5M Leones a week.23rd July 2010
The Cotton Tree is very important in Freetown history and it should be taken care of. It is obvious that the author of the article has no idea or chooses not to respect the history of Freetown.18th July 2010
Herbert Williams is the perfect example of attitudinal change.Five million a week is nothing compared to the one hundred million spent on that brass metal called clock.16th July 2010