Parliament ‘Slaps’ President Koroma
The ‘Nay’ had it in the well of Parliament last Thursday when the Deputy Minister of Works, Housing and Infrastructure, Mr. Babagaleh Barrie, piloted the Concession Agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone represented by the Ministry and China Railway Seventh Group (SL) Limited that was made on 22nd December, 2015.
It could be recalled that the Government of Sierra Leone received proposal from the Ministry of Works, Housing and Infrastructure (referred to in the Agreement as Concessionaire) for the rehabilitation and widening of the two-lane Wellington-Masiaka Road to four-lane, construction of a new bridge at Orugu with two lanes and the structural strengthening of the existing Bridge under Build, Operate, Maintain and Transfer (BOMT) arrangement.
The negotiation for the award of contract were held with the participation of stakeholders from the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA), the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED), Office of the Chief of Staff, the Public, Private Partnership Unit, Ministry of Works, Housing and Infrastructure, Road Maintenance Fund Administration (RMFA) and other relevant MDA’s.
But when the US$150 million Concession Agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and China Railway Seventh Group (SL) Limited was piloted in the well of Parliament last Thursday, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle deferred its ratification because of certain clauses in the agreement.
One of the clauses they disagreed with was the proposed toll charges that were accepted by the negotiators of the agreement.
In Clause 4 of the document “Stakeholders Resolutions at Meetings on Discussions of Technical, Legal & Financial Proposals for the Extension to 4-Lane and Tolling of the Wellington-Masiaka Highway by CRSG,” the following proposed Toll Charges were accepted”:
Toll (in Leones)
|Tractor & Trailer Unit||
But lawmakers have unanimously called for a reduction in the proposed toll prices to cushion the socio-economic effects on the public.
They further argued that vehicle owners, road users and the general public should be consulted and sensitized on the loan agreement such as the categories of toll and the method of payment, as well as the CRSG to obtain the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) License before the commence of work and the relocation of the affected property owners.
The expected risks to the project were also addressed in the agreement under Economic Risk and Socio-Political Risk.
- Economic Risk
- The most important variable on which the Financial Proposal was developed is the projected Traffic Count. The risk to this is that in an event that the traffic count drops after the implementation of the project, it will adversely affect the revenue projection and subsequently the repayment period for the whole project.
- Socio-Political Risk
- This may arise if the citizens protest that the Toll Charges are too high. In the event of continued protests and demonstrations, the GoSL might be obliged to reduce the Toll Charges, which will have adverse effect on revenue collection for the project.
- RMFA representative in particular was anticipating protests by the citizens if the Toll System commences after extending the road to Four-Lane from km0 – km10, and after attaining 30% of site clearing works on the entire road which is about km20.1.
Meanwhile, the agreement has been referred to the Ethics Committee in Parliament to be thoroughly looked into before ratification.
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