However, the Dragon nation’s influence is attributed to the incompetent leadership of our governance capability and the “non-strategy approach” to translating such infrastructural developments to the benefit of Sierra Leoneans. For instance, the Chinese construction of the Wilkinson and Spur road was riddled with corrupt practices from the Ministry of Works and Ministry of Finance respectively. The improper coordinating system with other related Ministries like Energy and Power also caused a long delay of the project completion. The Wilkinson Road/Spur Road project serves as a prime example of why accountability and transparent local partners with strong state institutions are needed to ensure that Chinese investments are ultimately for the greater good of Sierra Leone.
According to leak documents from the Ministry of Finance, the government of Sierra Leone paid $18 million for the 4km- long Wilkinson Road. The unit price charged was roughly $4.5 million a kilometer compared with internationally accepted average price of $250,000.This project was not only expensive and costly but was piloted with corrupt hands that mercilessly defrauded our nation. And China’s influence has been measured by the ability of its counterpart (Sierra Leone) to enjoy “non-interference” in appropriating and disbursing donor assistance without conditions or limitations. Apparently, the lack of transparency and the poor oversight responsibility by parliament itself have allowed such serious national problems to continue unabated.
On the telecommunication front, the state of poor network services in Sierra Leone could be traced to some of the low graded electrical components imported and installed by China’s Huawei Technologies Co, Ltd. The government owned Sierratel Company particularly and many other mobile phone services continue to witness troubling network failures because of the lack of regulations and oversight responsibilities by NATCOM. With a diversified investment strategy to attracting more foreign companies like Nokia, Samsung and Motorola, major problems like telecommunication failures could be solved with updated technologies and better services for the people of Sierra Leone.
SOURCE: Standard Times, Sierra Leone.