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Trouble brews at Freetown City Council

Trouble brews at Freetown City Council

21-day ultimatum for CA to go

Allegations and counter-allegations abound at the Freetown City Council between the Mayor and the Councilors on the one hand, and the Chief Administrator on the other.

The opposition dominated Council of 48 Councilors, with only one representing the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party, has over the last three years been at daggers drawn with their Chief Administrator, Festus Kallay, whom they accused of being defiant and disrespectful to authority.

The Councilors also accuse the CA of stifling the work of Council by refusing to sign cheques and documents related to development projects undertaken by Council.

Apparently disgusted with the behavior of their CA, the Councilors, who had earlier written a couple of letters to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Develepment in charge of Local Councils, complaining the recalcitrant CA, have yet written another correspondence signed by over forty Councilors dated 25th August 2021, giving a 21-day ultimatum for the CA to be transferred or embark on a peaceful protest involving electorates from the different Wards they represent in Council.

Dismissing allegations of partisan reasons for calling for the transfer of the CA, Councilor Unisa Kamara of Ward 044 at Lumley, said “there is no way that we can use politics in addressing the development concerns of Council”. He cited the refusal of the CA to facilitate the installation of water tanks and the acquisition of land for development projects in various Wards.

Another allegation levied against Mr Festus Kallay, is his denial to sign the documents for the Transfer Stations, which seek to facilitate waste management in the city, a USD 1.5 million project under transform Freetown initiative.

Mr Kallay rebutted the allegations against him as unfounded, noting that he was in good working relation with Councilors.

“I love development; I am here for development”, the CA said, noting that his duty was to ensure that processes and procedures were followed.

“I cannot sign cheques without due process and for expenditure that is not budgeted for such as the procurement of tractors that did go through the procurement process”, he said. 

He opined that there were more important issues the Councilors should address, rather than asking for his transfer.

The Mayor of Freetown on her part, Her Worship, Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, dismissed the CA’s explanation as “completely false”, noting the latter in fact chaired the initial meeting of the project and the he was part of the negotiations for the Transfer Stations project sites.

She disclosed that the CA walked out of the meeting of donors and the Minister of Development and Economic Planning. “He is arrogant, disrespectful and demanding”, she said.

Acknowledging receipt of the 21-days ultimatum, the minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Tamba Lamina, said he had put together a team of 8 people to find out what the problems are at the Council and report in three weeks’ time.

“On Monday, I will meet with the team to give them the Terms of Reference and I have also invited the Mayor and the other parties to a meeting on the 2nd of September”, the Minister said. He disclosed that a regular monitoring mechanism would be activated to ensure that sanity and integrity return to Council.

By Adul Kuyateh

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