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Sierra Leone News: FCC uncluttering Freetown with four clusters

Freetown could be best described as a cluster of organized confusion. The ‘Transform Freetown’ initiative by Freetown City Council (FCC), which was recently unveiled by the President at the Miatta Conference hall, Brookfields aims changing the city by addressing 11 priority areas that falls under four clusters: Resilience, Human Development, Healthy Cities and Urban Mobility.  Recent experience has demonstrated that our city, like others around the world, must become more resilient to the environmental, social and economic shocks and stresses that are a growing reality of the 21st century. Tackling challenges within three priority sectors – environmental management, revenue mobilisation and urban planning and housing – will help achieve this. In his keynote address, the President said that the insistence on purposeful planning, local participation and engagement with the private sector and other stakeholders, public accountability, improving the efficiency and quality of public service delivery, were all aimed at training citizens, providing opportunity, and making Freetown a better, more livable and more resilient city that resonated very strongly with him. He added that the three-year development plan for transforming Freetown deserved and would get the full support of the government. “Our Freetown will be clean. So within the last 8 months in governance, the government has supported the Freetown City Council with direct financial disbursements of Le18.3 billion. We want to make our Freetown a better city for all of us,” he assured. President Bio also asked questions, in the form of suggestions about FCC’s proposed plans on municipal assets, congestion in the city, disaster management during the rains, leveraging ICT to boost revenue mobilisation, promoting tourism and the informal settlements as they relate to bigger issues of social exclusion and social injustice. “In the past, we saw how municipal assets were illegally appropriated by the politically powerful and their rogue agents. My question is, does the initiative aim to recover those assets? …And is it not possible to plough back proceeds from value-added city assets into the development of the city especially in new infrastructure for sewage disposal, water supply, and sanitation?” he asked. The Mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, said that circumstances in Freetown had been challenging over the years, adding that there was so much pressure in Freetown on housing, environment as well as the growing need to provide basic social facilities for residents.  “We want to ensure that by working with the central government Freetown will be restored to its lost glory. The Freetown City Council has sought to align its agenda with that of the national development plan,” the Mayor said, adding that they wanted to create the necessary jobs within Freetown that would deter the youth from embarking on difficult migration journeys.  Deputy Minister of Local Government, Honourable Philip Tetema Tondeneh, said that FCC had developed a shared vision for the betterment of Freetown, adding that the vision of the council could not be realised without support from the central government. He also recognised the automated local tax collection system. He commended the President for reintroducing the monthly cleaning exercises. Transforming Freetown will involve… Diversified employment opportunities and an appropriately skilled population is essential to our individual and collective prosperity. In this cluster, we have four priority sectors – education, skills development, job creation and support for people with disabilities. These are intended to cultivate a diverse and dynamic economy with a skilled workforce, which attracts and retains businesses. Recognising the link between public health, economic promotion and community development, and addressing challenges related to the three priority sectors – health, water and sanitation – will help Freetown become a healthier and more productive place to live and work. Rapid urban population growth, the increasing use of private modes of transport and poor urban planning limit urban mobility, and create particular challenges for women and children, the elderly and the disabled. Addressing some of these challenges will support the achievement of other priorities, particularly those related to the environment, economic development, health and safety and job creation. The Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, added that because local council resources were always scarce, it was the responsibility of government to provide funding for councils.

OG/26/1/19

By Ophaniel Gooding

Monday January 28, 2019.

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