The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), on Friday 8th November 2019, met with the Management of Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) to discuss public concerns bordering on services offered by the Authority, more so, since SLRSA has been a subject of ACC investigations in recent months.
Delivering his welcome address, the ACC Deputy Commissioner (DC), Augustine Foday Ngobie, thanked SLRSA Management for their timely response to the Commission’s invitation. He recommended that SLRSA puts its house in order, citing several complaints forwarded to the Commission from the general public relating to service delivery by the Authority.
“This meeting is therefore convened to address several complaints that have reached the ACC hinging on alleged extortion by SLRSA staff”, added Mr. Ngobie.
He went on to further highlight some of the concerns raised by the public which include but not limited to; lack of service charters thereby making it difficult for customers to ascertain fixed costs of services, especially at regional offices; exorbitant charges for services rendered and staff collecting revenues instead of customers making payments to the bank.
“We as a Commission believe that some of these practices are unacceptable, and we view them as easy avenues by your staff to engage in corruption; which is the reason why we’ve called to hear from you and also make clarifications on how these complaints are handled by your Management, before the ACC takes the necessary steps as provided for in the Anti-Corruption Act No.12, 2008”, said DC Ngobie.
DC Ngobie made further recommendations for service charters to be boldly and visibly put up for public consumption in all SLRSA offices across the country. He also recommended proper dissemination of information through mass sensitization; digitalizing of payments in the place of physical receipts and transfers of cash; working with other state institutions such as the National Revenue Authority(NRA), the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), amongst others, with a view to enhancing transparency, efficiency and accountability.
Mr. Patrick Sandi, Director of Public Education and External Outreach Department (PEOD) at the ACC, spoke on the necessity for interventions of such nature with SLRSA, which he said are very useful to fully understand the scope of the problems and proffer collective solutions.
Mr. Joseph Dauda, Director of Administration, SLRSA cited non-compliance as the biggest threat to SLRSA efforts. He made clarifications on complaints ranging from a new service charter which he says is a work in progress, to persons using third parties to have their licenses renewed.
“Such third parties charge exorbitant fees for services which do not reflect on receipts; connivance between bank and SLRSA staff, issuing of banks slips beforehand; receipt of direct cash by SLRSA staff from customers for NRA taxes due to the absence of NRA outlet in most SLRSA pay points across the country, noted Mr. Dauda”.
He further disclosed that the Authority ends up being blamed for such compounded problem. He also quickly made it known that investigations are ongoing on a number of complaints reported to the Authority.
Mr. Abdul K. Dumbuya Public Relations Officer (PRO), SLRSA, committed the Authority to embarking on massive public education drive with a view to sensitize the general public on the procedures in acquiring licenses; renewal; registration of vehicles, motorbikes, tricycles; and to ensure the display of service charters in all SLRSA outfits across the nation by end of December, 2019.
The Director of Admin, Mr. Joseph Dauda was accompanied by Abdul Dumbuya, Public Relations Officer, Tenneh Kamara; Acting Procurement Manager, Sama Gamanga Company Secretary; Arthur Brima, Acting Head of Transport, Lamin Koroma, Transport Consultant; and Kai Tongi Augustine, Acting Head of Safety and Enforcement, all of the SLRSA.
In another development, DC Augustine Foday Ngobie on same day met with top officials of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) from Ghana and Nigeria. The delegation under the directive of the Registrar to Council in Nigeria were in Sierra Leone to study the internal procedure of how Sierra Leonean staff working for the council have been handling the conduct of public examinations in the country; how it has managed its duty(s) over the years to help Sierra Leone achieve its goals set by the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education (MBSSE), including how they relate with the public, relevant stakeholders, and how these stakeholders interplay to also enable the council achieve its mandate in the West African sub – Region.
Welcoming the delegation headed by the Senior Deputy Registrar, WAEC-Nigeria, Mrs. Comfort Ola Agwu, DC Ngobie expressed delight over the visit, describing it as ‘a meeting long overdue’, since the ACC has been expectant to meeting with the Council’s Regional body. He said the commission has under its hand – several burning issues bordering on the conduct of Public exams by WAEC – Sierra Leone, maintaining that the ACC, believing in the goodwill of the present government of Brig. Rtd. Julius Maada Bio for the introduction of the ‘Free Quality School Education (FQSE)’, which by itself is to redeem the country’s staggering educational sector, has as part of its mandate, a crucial role to play by working with stakeholders to ensure and enhance a corrupt-free educational sector of Sierra Leone.
“There is no way, Sierra Leone can move and competently compete at the International level without properly passing exams set by WAEC, the more reason why the ACC believes that the manner in which Public exams have been conducted over the years, warrants the commission’s intervention as a serious and responsible Anti-Graft agency to closely monitor all exams conducted by the council”, DC Ngobie said.
He further described the conduct of external exams by WAEC as appalling, and called on the council for an urgent review of its efforts including the willingness of the ACC to share with the delegation, its findings on a number of allegations against the Council.
On her part, the Senior Deputy Registrar of WAEC-Nigeria, Mrs. Agwu said even though their visit was prompted by several underlying factors, but key among them is to seek audience with the commission, recalling the ACC’s efforts in clamping down on examinations malpractice across Sierra Leone.
“We learnt that the ACC has been playing a wonderful role in monitoring and coming up with some viable observation on the conduct of WAEC and we can’t leave the shores of Sierra Leone without coming to the Commission to have you share with us your findings and observations which we believe will help us make a proper recommendation, proper report, and see who is to be sanctioned even amongst us, so that Sierra Leone can achieve its full educational potential and the council on the other hand”, Mrs.Agwu said.
Consequently, the ACC shared its findings with the delegation following a fruitful discussion at the conference room of the Commission’s 3 Gloucester Street Office in central Freetown.
The WAEC delegation headed by Mrs. Agwu also included the Acting Senior Deputy Registrar, WAEC-Ghana, Mr C.K Osafo, Head of Administration Division, WAEC-Ghana, Mr. Paapa Brew and Head, Legal Department, WAEC-Nigeria, Mrs Nkem Otoborkeyan. All made subsequent meaningful contributions during the engagement.
It could be recalled that the Commission had rolled out several operations bordering on examinations malpractices across Sierra Leone since December 2018, initially arresting 71 persons at a private residence in Western Freetown.