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Sierra Leone News: 200 more buses from China

While, his predecessor is a suspect for the misappropriation of funds over the “bus-gate” scandal of 2013, the new Minister of Transport and Aviation, Kabineh Kallon, has signed an agreement with another Chinese company for 200 more buses. At this point, the cost of the buses is unknown.
The Minister said the new government in Freetown is grappling with the issues of social amenities for the citizens. The Minister of Transport and Aviation signed an agreement with a Chinese company, Golden Dragon.
The Minister said the commuter buses are to ease the transportation problem in the country. Apparently, the Transport Ministry, the Commission for Privatization, Road Transport Corporation and the Procurement office were all involved with negotiations leading to the signing of the agreement.
According to the Government Transition Team (GTT) Report, the former Minister of Transport and Aviation, Leonard Balogun Koroma, “… signed a contract with Liu Jianmin, Vice President of Poly Technologies, agreeing to the purchase and shipment of 100 new buses from Poly Technologies to Sierra Leone.”
The report states that, “Many of the buses have already been disabled because they are of poor quality and lack replacement spares.”
“The Beijing-based Poly Technologies is a Chinese state-owned company. The contract covered, in addition to the 100 new buses, the supply of equipment, spare parts and associated training.”
The value of the 2014 contract was $12,291,920 USD or Le.61.5 billion. The schedule of payment, according to the contract, began with a $2.4 million USD deposit on 30 May 2014 to end with the final payment on 31st May 2016”. These buses arrived in Sierra Leone in July 2015, which included 50 city buses having 19 seats each; 30 city buses 30 seats each, and 20 provincial buses 48 seats each.
The GTT report stated, “Sierra Leone Roads Transport Corporation (SLRTC), which was marginalised by Minister Balogun Koroma during the negotiations leading to the contract, had earlier submitted a business proposal for the procurement of 100 buses, prepared in February 2014, stating that it would need a total of Le26.5 billion to procure 100 new buses.”
Stating further that there was “previous experience purchasing strong and durable ASHOK Leyland buses from India. Le.26.5 billion, is a fraction of the Le.61.5 billion that Balogun Koroma paid for the Chinese buses, which turned out to be far less strong and durable than the ASHOK Leyland buses”.
“However, though the Ministry of Finance paid the $12.2 million USD for the buses, it was considered a loan to SLRTC, which was to manage the buses, but whose own proposal for the purchase of the buses Minister Balogun Koroma had summarily rejected”.
The communication also noted, “The committee holds the view that the $12 million USD spent on the procurement of the one hundred buses from China could have been wisely spent to procure at least two hundred buses.”
In the recommendation, “The GTT strongly recommends that the former Minister of Transport, Leonard Balogun Koroma, be investigated for negotiating this extortionate contract, which suggests that corruption was his key strong motivation.
OG/1/9/18
By Ophaniel Gooding
Monday September 03, 2018.

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