By Sylvester Samba.
The Deputy Minister of Transport and Aviation, Sadiq Sillah has disclosed in the ongoing 2019 budget discussions that the one hundred buses bought in 2015 by the All People’s Congress (APC) led administration have no economic value because they cannot generate the needed money to run them.
Making a statement before the technical committee at the budget hearing session, strategic plan and achievements of the year under review, Mr. Sillah said they are still struggling to run the said buses. He further explained that the buses cannot even generate money to buy fuel for their running not to talk about honoring outstanding debt.
“There is still an outstanding debt of Le9.1Billion for those buses even though between 2015 and 2017, the government had paid Le 43.9Billion”, said the Deputy Minister.
Concerns were also raised by those present with regards ferry services to and from Lungi. The ministry mentioned in its presentation that the two ferries; M.V. Mahera and M.V. Bai Bureh have already been repaired.
But National Coordinator of Budget Advocacy Network (BAN), Abu Bakarr Kamara, questioned the sea worthiness of the ferries because of the frequent breakdowns.
According to him, one of the ferries has broken down about five times this year and 17 times last year, which is not good for passengers using the service.
He expressed grave concern as to whether there is value for money in the operation of those ferries and claimed that huge sums of money had been spent on repairing and maintenance of the ferries but the problem still continues.
“We have hundreds of people using the ferry on a daily basis. I wonder whether we are getting value for money in the running of those ferries because of the frequent breakdowns” he said and added that something needs to be done to ensure effective service.
Responding, the Deputy Transport Minister, Sadiq Sillah alluded to their concerns and added that the current ferries being use are outdated.
Because of the current problems with the running of the ferries, he urged the Ministry of Finance to provide funds for them to carry out a study on the use of those ferries in a bid to have new ones.
“We are currently working on a proposal to procure two new ferries through Public Private Partnership, which will remove government hands in its operations”, he said.