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New Year message to the people of Bo District

New Year message to the people of Bo District

delivered by the new Bo District Council Chairman, Joseph Munda Bindi 1st January, 2013 (reproduced verbatim)

My dear people of Bo District, it is but proper that at the dawn of this brand New Year, we all as individuals and as a district observe some moment of reflection on our strives in the old year 2012 as we brace ourselves for the challenges the new year will unfold.  As I greet you all in the name of God Almighty, let me tender my heartfelt congratulation to you on seeing this New Year. For this and many more, I am very thankful to our maker for granting us this grace.

My People and residents of Bo, as an important partner in the governance of this country, the Bo District Council made quite some development break through even in the midst of a myriad of challenges last year. With thanks to the central government of Sierra Leone, donor agencies and implementing partners like the European Union, World Bank, Nacsa, Welt Hunger Heife to name but a few, together with the tax payers, the council made quite some appreciable interventions mainly through service delivery with tangible results in all aspects of rural life. In the areas of Agriculture, Education, Health and Sanitation, Rural Water Services, Infrastructure, the Bo District council has her development foot prints in many communities in the district in the forms of water wells, drug supplies, and construction/rehabilitation of PHUs, school buildings, roads, bridges/culverts, input supplies to farmers and other social services. For these I say thanks to the former Chairman, Councilors, staff of the Bo District Council and staff of the devolved ministries.

Patriotic citizens and residents of Bo District, as a service delivery agency with poor rural communities as our target beneficiaries in a typical developing country, Council can only strive to stem the storms of adversity among the rural poor. The challenges are so much that the more council does; the more is still left to be done. As we prepare ourselves to take our proportionate fair share of the President’s Agenda for Prosperity, I choose not to glamorize the far-from-adequate development benchmarks recorded in the previous year, but to take serious stock of the challenges of 2012 as hurdles on our way to the goodies in the Agenda for Prosperity. As chairman of the Bo District Council, I will continue to engage and lobby central government authorities to fast track the clearing of these hurdles on our way to the President’s Agenda for Prosperity, should this District benefit from that agenda.

My people of Bo District, highlighted below are only some of the major obstacles on our way in actualizing our dreams:

1)    Poor Rural Road Network: Until and unless central government practicalizes the devolution of some of the functions of Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) to the Local Councils, the set back of inaccessibility will continue to plague all development packages to many parts of the district. Farmers who form the bulk of the population in the district can hardly realize the full benefit of their farming activities in the absence of good road network to the markets. The children, aged and disabled can still not access good medical services. Some chiefdoms are no-go areas for NGOs mainly on account of poor roads.

No qualified teacher, nurse or other community worker wants to be marooned in a rural community with little chance of accessing the attractions of urban towns/cities. In principle, the SLRA has been devolved to Local Councils a few years back but the delay in practicalizing this devolution process remains the bane to rural development.

2)    Yet to be recognized and approved schools/teachers: The irrepressible desire for education by rural communities has over the years resulted into the establishment of many primary and junior secondary schools in the district. Some of these schools are in make-shift structures with teachers most of whom are not on pay roll.

It remains a direct challenge to the local councils that the rural people’s agitation for education as reflected in the spread of make-shift schools are attended to through the recognition and approval of these schools together with the inclusion of teachers’ names on the government pay roll. Anything short of this will distance the rural communities from the much desired Agenda for Prosperity.

3)    Irregular payments of government subventions to the councils: As grants from government are a major driving force behind council’s operations, delays in the payment of these grants have always accounted for the slow pace implementation of projects which often leaves most projects uncompleted.

4)    Poor Revenue Mobilization: Revenue mobilization in Bo District is faced with lot of challenges ranging from revenue sharing arrangements, attitude of tax payers, administrative draw backs, etc. The low level revenue generation is another inhibiting factor in council’s administration and execution of development programmes. This problem will be compounded under the Agenda for Prosperity where government has proposed that councils contribute 60% to development projects that will be executed in the district as stated in the 2013 National Budget.

My people of Bo District, as we are ushered into this New Year, I wish to register here the council’s renewed commitment to serve all rural communities keeping focused on the Decentralization Policies and the council’s mission and vision statements. Under my stewardship as Chairman of the Bo District Council, we will exert more efforts in revenue mobilization at local and international levels to augment/complement government’s support. My administration will ensure that all on-going projects are completed and utilized by the relevant beneficiaries. We shall continue to engage and lobby with central government on the issues on decentralization, approval of schools and teachers in the spirit to improve service delivery to our people.

Let me join others to reiterate here that elections are over and we remain the same one people of our district. The services of council know no colour, ethnicity, race, religion, or political shade. Therefore, let us all work together to develop our district.

To all Paramount Chiefs and other traditional authorities, staff and councilors of the Bo City Council, NGOs and donor partners operating in this district, let me thank you for your marvelous and invaluable services you provided for our people and implore your greater cooperative and collaborative work relationship with this council.

To you all I say JOIN ME FOR BETEH. I wish you a happy and prosperous new year.

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