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IMC settles impasse at Radio Kolenten in Kambia

IMC settles impasse at Radio Kolenten in Kambia

The Independent Media Commission (IMC) has settled the impasse at Radio Kolenten, following discussions at a well attended meeting held at the Kambia District Council Hall  January 30 between the Commissioners and representatives of the Kambia District Council, Board members and staff of the radio station, civil society organisations and a cross section of the Kambia community.

Commissioners of the IMC led by the Chairperson, Bernadette Cole heard from the discussions that the problem started with disagreement between the Station Manager and Commercial Officer respectively of the community radio over the financial management of the radio station.  This led to the suspension of the two officials by the Board pending investigation. The Station Manager later resigned, while the Commercial Officer who was found to be above board was re-instated.

Several speakers complained about interference by the District Council which had threatened to take over the radio station.  This was confirmed by the Chairman of the District Council, Mr. Samuel S.K. Sankoh. Waving a document, Mr. Sankoh told the gathering that according to the 2004 Local Government Devolution Act, the Ministry of Information had devolved its functions to the local councils. This according to him, included the setting up of boards for radio stations and the supervision of their operations. He said that the current Board of Radio Kolenten does not meet and that its members were handpicked by their friends.

Commissioner Joshua Nicol, former Country Coordinator of the  Radio Netherlands mobile training project in Sierra Leone, INFORMOTRAC explained the genesis of Radio Kolenten, pointing out that it is a community radio station that should be run by the community and not the district council.  This was buttressed by the Chairperson, who affirmed that the IMC has the mandate to oversee the operations of all radio stations in the country.  She stressed that the Commission’s independence is guaranteed not only by the IMC Act, but also by His Excellency the President and his government who have never interfered in the Commission’s operations.  Mrs. Cole further pointed out that recent events in the media including the corporatisation of the former SLBS with an independent Board of Directors has superseded the provisions of the Devolution Act, as the Ministry of Information no longer runs the national broadcaster or any other radio station for that matter.  She however cautioned that the radio station should be used as a weapon for national development and that the Board should endeavour to work amicably with all segments of the Kambia population including the district council, paramount chiefs and all political parties.

At the end of the deliberations, a five point resolution was developed to ensure peaceful co-existence between the radio station and all stakeholders in the district.  These incuded a review of the Constitution of the radio station to make it more current, the development of governance structures including mechanisms for strict accountability and probity, the election of a new board of directors for the radio station, the development of Schedule of Duties for staff as well as a Radio Programme Schedule.  Technical back stop, including training of the new Board and management of the radio station will be provided by the IMC.

Issued by the Independent Media Commission

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