President Ernest Bai Koroma is receiving plaudits, congratulations and pats on the back from all sectors of the Sierra Leone society for the dramatic and magnificent manner he is changing the face of the country. Sierra Leone, despite all her natural resources was a country once synonymous with pitch darkness, poor infrastructure and dangerous roads filled with potholes. However, since President Koroma came to power in 2007, dramatic changes are going on in Sierra Leone that visitors to the country are spreading when they return abroad. Now, there is electricity in the country, thanks to the completion of the Bumbuna Hydroelectricity Dam by President Koroma. There is still much room for improvement but one joy that Sierra Leoneans have today is that their nation no longer has the shameful distinction.
With Bumbuna Phase 11 in the works and more megawatts of electricity expected to shoot light to all pars of the country, the government has also turned its attention into road construction and architectural projects and gradually, in so short a time, Sierra Leone is now boasts of some of the best and safest highways in the subcontinent. There was a time in Sierra Leone (In the early 90s to as recent as 2006 ) when travelling around the country was the most annoying and dangerous enterprise one could embark upon. The beautiful roads system built by the late President Siaka Stevens had deteriorated into potholes and unnegotiable trenches and gutters. A journey of just 164 miles from Freetown to Bo was a hair-raising torture that lasted forever ; the potholes and the tarmac that had been eaten off the roads by age and erosion made travel slow, very bumpy and irritating. The situation was no different with the Freetown/Makeni, Makeni/Kono and the Bo/ Kenema Highways. They were all death traps and many lives were lost needlessly when vehicles summersaulted or had head-on collisions while trying to negotiate the trenches and potholes.
I can remember travelling on the Bo Waterside death traps to Kenema and then to Freetown with Liberian refugees fleeing the war in Liberia in the early 1990s. I could not disguise my shame and embarrassment at the pitiful and disgraceful state of the roads in Sierra Leone . Though running away from war, my Liberian friends could not help taking snipes at Sierra Leone for such a deplorable and dangerous road system. Some of them began wondering whether they were doing the right thing stirring up the protests that led to the 1980 bloody military coup that kicked off the political chaos in the country that led to the Civil War. That was because despite all the country’s problems, Liberia had far better roads. Travelling from Monrovia to Gbanga in Suacococo and then to Nimba County was comfortable . One of them complained to me : “Ma meh, why is your country so backward ? We thought we had problems in Liberia but from what I am seeing, I think Liberia is Europe, compared to your country. If we had these kinds of roads in Liberia, war would have started long ago ” .
Today, things have changed in Sierra Leone. Going by the road construction going on presently under the government of President Ernest Bai Koroma , Sierra Leone is becoming the envy of many West African nations. The country is moving towards the glorious achievement of having the best road network in West Africa.
PRESIDENT ERNEST KOROMA : THE MARCH OF VICTORY
The All People’s Congress (APC ) Government , led by President Koroma, is cognisant of the fact that transportation is a fundamental component of the expeditious transfer of food products, goods and services throughout the country. The government is aware that good roads will boost commercial activities and stimulate socio-economic and political development ; furthermore, when a country has a magnificient road network system , the quality of life of the people is improved. Commuting becomes easier for the citizens and even the lives of vehicles plying the good roads become lengthened . The government’s infrastructural and road development projects which are contained in President Koroma’s Agenda For Change are therefore designed to spur socio-economic and political development and improve the lives of the people.
As construction works on the Freetown/Conakry Highway, and the Kenema-Koindu Road gain pace and the Freetown Peninsular Highway takes shape , work will soon start on the ambitious hillside road which will significantly reduce the traffic jams in the city. It will be a by-pass road that will start from Blackhall Road, winding through the hilly expanse of Ginger Hall, Mount Aureol and ending at the junction of Pademba Road. The road , along with the Peninsular Highway , will boost commerce, movement of people and tourism in the city and the country.
President Ernest Koroma is thus a blessing to Sierra Leone. Through his many development projects he has restored the pride of the Sierra Leonean people and provided hope that Sierra Leone is not a lost cause after all. Talking to many Sierra Leoneans in New York, Washington DC, California and New Jesey at the weekend, this writer had an earful of the sentiments of appreciation for President Koroma being expressed by citizens of the country all over the world. Though some disaffected people are using the internet to promote negativity and spread fear and apprehension about life in Sierra Leone, the truth continues to slap them in the face that Sierra Leone, under President Ernest Koroma, is moving on to become one of the most progressive countries in Africa. For once, donor money and national funds are being put into good use in Sierra Leone.
The world economic meltdown is wreaking havoc on the economic well-being of people all over the world, even in the industrialized nations like the United States , Britain, France, Germany , Russia and Asia. Sierra Leone is no exception , AND those trying to use our economic problems to underplay the achievements of the present government are further thwarted by the fact that whatever economic problems bedevil them today, Sierra Leoneans are hopeful that there is now a silver lining in the cloud with President Koroma’s socio-economic and political reforms , backed by more positive signs like the resumption of mining activities all over the country .
A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step .Sierra Leone , under President Ernest Koroma, has taken that one step . By the time President Koroma completes his second term, Sierra Leone would have marched to the commendable heights of social, economic and political advancement.
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