I am writing this open letter to the Commissioner, Joseph K Kamara in my capacity as a Sierra Leonean and as member of the APC Party. I am disturbed that Mr. Joseph Kamara who many people admired before becoming ACC boss has allowed himself to be misused by the very APC members he is dreaming of leading. This piece is intended to primarily let the public know more about Mr. Joseph Kamara, the Commissioner, ACC, a mirror of characters in President Koroma’s government.
When I heard the pronouncement of the ACC Commissioner Joseph F Kamara exonerating the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Lonard Logus Koroma in the dubious bus saga , I was not surprised but it made me to think that the ACC has launched a “war against civil servants”. According to the ACC Commissioner interview at FM 98.1 Gud Morning Salone , he said that ‘the Minister was in no way connected with the procurement process and did not sit in the procurement committee meetings. And that the Procurement Committee of the Ministry Transport and Aviation did not understand or comply with the Executive Clearance approved by the Supreme Executive Authority, the President. I considered the Civil Servants, who served on the procurement committee for the buses are victims of circumstance and the 3 of the committee members. The pronouncement of the ACC boss that Mr. Logus Koroma has no case to answer is really the figment of the imagination of the public. The Public would prefer an independent investigation that is free and fair and acceptable to the people.
Before I challenge the position of the ACC Boss that his pronouncement is completely flawed and inconsistent with his previous rulings, I would like him to ponder over the following questions: i) who initiated the procurement process for the buses? i) who’s the head of the procuring entity in the Ministry of Transport and Aviation? iii) Who submitted the technical and financial evaluation of the buses to the procurement committee? iv) who approved the procurement committee report and confirmed that it was in line with presidential approval; v) who signed the contract; and vi) who approved payments for the buses? I believe your reflection on these questions with the explanation below would help you and the public to know that your exoneration of the Minister of Transport and Aviation in the ongoing bus saga is unacceptable in the 21st century and this is typical reason why Sierra Leone will never pass corruption index under the MCC. A proper reflection on these questions will also help you to realize that the Minister of Transport and Aviation was part and he was fully involved in the procurement chain of buses from start to finish. Mr. ACC boss, you cannot hide behind the common adage “the Law is Blind” meaning you interpret what is written in black and white. The Minister committed a lot of transactions other than his public utterances that are written in black and white.
Who is head of the procuring entity and who initiated the procurement committee? The Public Procurement Law of 2004 defines the head of a procuring entity as the “Chief Executive Officer of the entity such as the Minister of a Ministry or the overall head of an MDA. The case of the Ministry of Transport and Aviation clearly shows that the head of that procuring entity is Mr. Logus Koroma. Section 18 (2) of the Procurement Law empowers the Minister to appoint members of the procurement committee in accordance with subsection (9). The head has the authority to endorse the recommendations of the committee before contract is awarded but he equally has the authority to reject the committee’s recommendations if he/she deems that the committee didn’t follow the right procedures. One of your very high profile cases as commissioner of ACC involved the 30 year old NASSIT ferry that never worked. The head of the procuring entity of NASSIT, the former Director General never participated in the procurement committee meetings; although he travelled as in the case of Minister Logus, to Holland to inspect the ferries. In concluding that case, you indicted the former Director General and forced him to pay 500 million Leones as head of the entity.
Procedurally, the permanent secretary, who is the vote controller and chairman of the procurement committee, should initiate procurement process. But sources from the transport ministry alleged that the procurement of buses started with the Minister requesting executive approval from president. In his request, he wrote to president by saying that he has had negotiations with the Chinese contractors, Poly Technology Company and the cost of the buses package was US$12.0 million. By law, before the minister wrote to president, the procurement committee should have met to agree on the need to buy the buses from Poly Technology. This did not happen. Instead, the procurement, in their deliberation mentioned that they have received executive approval to buy the buses from Poly Technology Company.
The next question is whether there was a technical and financial evaluation report upon which the procurement committee acted. Section 18(13) (c) explains that procurement committee shall review and approve evaluation reports and contract award recommendations, in cases of procurement beyond the authority limits of the respective procurement unit. Our sources from the Transport Ministry confided in this press that the professional head, the General Manager of Road Transport Corporation, Mr. Bockarie Lewis submitted a technical evaluation report to the ministry stating the prices of each and every item and equipment. It was on the strength of the Supreme Executive authority and the technical evaluation report that procurement committee dealt with the fait au complain to endorse poly Technology Company. The Minister, as head of the procuring entity judged his Executive approval to award the contract to Poly Technology Company at US$12 million was complied with and endorsed the recommendation. How can you say Mr. Commissioner, Minister Logus Koroma was not involved. Ministers do not sit on procurement committees but as heads of procuring entities, they have responsibility under oath to ensure that they approve contract recommendations within the law.
Signature and payment: this again spells the irony of events leading to the flawed conclusion that the minister has no role in the procurement. It’s completely out of place to imagine that an African Minister can sign a US$12 million contract and authorized payments without being involved. Apart from the utterances, the Minister signed the buses contract and he signed the payment documents throughout. Imagine Mr. Commissioner that Minister Logus can sign without been involved. Hehehe!! The Law is blind but not here. We have heard on several open discussions from Minister Logus himself that he traveled to bus factory to ensure that the buses have value for money. Who pays for his trips? Poly Technology Company or Government? Who pays for the technical managers; Road Transport Corporation or Poly Technology? These are questions you need to tell the public and to show that Mr. Logus was not involved in the procurement, when indeed he was the principal architect and not the civil servants he directs.
Concerned APC member