The failed SLPP govt of President Julius Maada Bio continues to exhibit bad governance in Freetown after nearly four years of maladministration.
The wave of destruction of business stores and the demolition of petty traders’ market tables in the capital Freetown by officials of the Ministry of Trade and Industry is likened to a war zone. This shocking demolition was led by the Trade Minister himself Dr Hinga Sandy. Many petty traders have suffered brutality as a result of the unnecessary ambush meted out by officials of the government last week purely on a politically motivated SLPP party agenda. There is no explanation to justify what has unfolded so far in Freetown against innocent and law-abiding citizens who are simply craving survival on their market tables. But sadly, the government of President Bio has embarked on this systematic and well-planned agenda to destroy the strongholds of the main opposition APC party including the capital and its environs.
As local and general and presidential elections draw nearer, the Bio presidency is targeting all the areas that they deem not in their favour in the event of any elections. Today, the Ministry of Trade and Industry has become the latest to carry out the SLPP government’s plans to dislocate citizens in APC strongholds by destroying their livelihoods in a deliberate attempt to punish them because they are not members and supporters of the ruling SLPP party. In Wilberforce for example, there are reports of market tables demolished by the Ministry of Trade thugs last week which left dozens of women traders in complete shock. Many were seen helplessly crying as their tables were being destroyed. It was an eyesore to see hardworking women traders being maltreated this way at the Bottom Mango Market in Wilberforce in Freetown.
Observers have no doubt about the motive of the SLPP regime. Government institutions have been ordered to execute this barbaric agenda by the corrupt SLPP regime of President Bio. Last week, the Trade and Industry Minister Dr Hinga Sandy and his SLPP thugs went on the rampage in Freetown where his brutal entourage destroyed business stores and shut down many trading doors much to the astonishment of the public who witnessed the brutality as it unfolded. Government media is saying that Trade Minister Hinga Sandy felt personally insulted because some business owners had bluntly refused to acknowledge the meeting they were invited to by the Minister to discuss the rising prices of building materials. They are justifying the demolitions on the refusal of certain traders to meet with the Trade Minister that but Sierra Leoneans do not believe that was the reason that spurred on the irate Trade Minister and his thugs to pounce leaving a trail of destruction.
As we go to press, there are hundreds of petty traders, mostly women, who have been left penniless and hopeless following the destruction of their market tables. Violence and heavy-handedness by President Bio have been the hallmarks of the corrupt SLPP government. It was, therefore, no surprise that the Trade Minister and his Deputy were seen touring a site where iron rods are stored. Minister Dr Hinga Sandy talked about the prices and how the government had plans to cut down the prices for consumers. Minister Sandi made this disclosure a day before the demolition exercises were carried out by the SLPP thugs. He noted a few days ago: “The freight charges have been cut down to 5%. And besides, we have seen freight charges going down. So as a Minister of Trade and Industry, with my able Deputy, all the staff of the Ministry has come down to ask these traders to meet us and sit down to discuss the details about how all these things being reduced would have an impact on the prices.
“We were at the office today and we waited for the invited businessmen and women, none of them turned up. So we came to make sure that we sort out all the facilities so that they can meet us in our offices. Let them meet us in our offices, then, we will sit down and decide what will be the prices of all these iron rods. The Cement people did very well. Now, imported cement that Mackie Materials used to sell wholesale for Le96,000 97,000 and 98,000 Leones have come down. Now, it is between Le60,000 to 88,000 Leones. We called Mackie today and we’ve done the MOU and signed it. So, the cement is now at 86,000 Leones for wholesale price. If you take, for instance, the cost of taking the cement out of Mackie Store to take to your shops – say you add transports, those totting the loads and the small margin you make – cement in Freetown that Mackie is selling should not be anything above 100,000 Leones. It should actually be between Le95,000 to 100,000 Leones in Freetown. We expect that in the provinces, you will be able to sell at least Le105,000 Leones at most. Leones have been short because they have one or two challenges with Money Gram but now everything is fine.
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“LEOCEM is now selling cement to those who made orders on the old management between Le70,000 to 75,000 Leones. So that means that wholesale prices would sell from Le70,000 to 75,000 Leones if you put transports etc, LEOCEM will sell between Le85,000 to 90,000 Leones. So this achievement we have made as a Ministry must reflect on the people who used to buy these commodities when freights were up, to be able to get some respite. We believe that the freight will be looked into and see how the percentage would come down. And by the time it comes down, most of these things would also come down. The Iron Rod people, want to be stubborn. Such stubbornness will be dealt with according to the law. That is why we have brought every facility for importers who are bringing Iron Rods to this country, when we call you to a meeting and you refused, we will shut down your facilities, and then you can meet us at the Ministry so that we can sit down and talk about the prices of Iron Rod. Thank you,” Minister Hinga Sandi concludes in his video dated February 9, 2022. (Photo: Meeting at the Trade Ministry with some traders).
After this video warning, the next day, Minister Hinga Sandy and his brutal officials of the Ministry of Trade and Industry visited the Iron Rod Stores whose owners had rejected his invitation. The government thugs went on closing down many stores in Freetown. Political observers say the incensed and furious Trade Minister Hinga Sandi should have exercised some professionalism and restraints with the businessmen and women who refused to meet him. “We cannot understand why the Trade Minister would say those who refused to meet him would be punished by destroying their businesses. It is not about the failure to meet the Minister, it is a calculated move by the SLPP government to dislocate the business people in Freetown because they are not SLPP party supporters. That’s the reality,” observers have intimated.
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Meanwhile, the Minister of Trade and Industry Dr Hinga Sandy, and the team went on an inspection tour to an Investment company that will process and manufacture steel in Sierra Leone. The company Odhav Multi Industries will employ over one thousand two hundred Sierra Leoneans who according to the Trade Minister will form 95%of the company workforce. This is in line with the government’s Local Content Policy. The agreement is worth $240million and was approved by Parliament. The company will also produce items like nails, pipes, binding wires, and oxygen tanks. More jobs for the youths
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Last week, the Minister of Trade and Industry together with his Deputy visited the construction site of the Maada BioProcessing and Manufacturing Factor in Songo, which through his Trade Minister made a partnership Agreement with the UDAF Multi-Purpose Factory for the production of steel, metal, iron rod, aluminum. This factory will employ more than 13 thousand Sierra Leoneans and this will add to the five processing factories so far built in just three and half years in office.
1 = to the Saamalemm Oils (Massakey), Processing Factory in Pujehun District.
2= the Cacao Processing Factory in Kenema District.
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3 = the Pineapple Juice Processing Factory in Bo District.
4 = the Garri Processing Factory in Bo.
5 = the Zolonko Flower and Bread Processing Factory in Wellington Freetown