Sierra Leone's Kenema-Koindu Highway: Will Koroma Deliver?

Published on 21st April 2014

A road in Sierra Leone
Ambassador Victor Foh is from the Mende-speaking South (SLLP stronghold) of Sierra Leone and was the top APC Party Secretary General during Koroma’s first presidential term. His being a Jimmy Bagbo Mende coupled with his extremely poor knowledge of contract work disqualified him for the contract to construct the Kenema-Koindu highway. This could have been a blessing in disguise for the beneficiaries of that road had it been that awardee was any more trust worthy than Foh. Given the substantively well-blemished record from his early days in the civil service to his current status as APC’s top-eye in the SLPP stronghold of the Southeast, Foh was sure to sweep the contract under the carpet. Foh, the man full of tricks, could have diverted the road construction project funds into personal bank account to further fatten his UK savings. It is said that Foh hopes to retire in UK. In our judgment, however, it is only the end-of-time that would retire Foh on earth.

Irrespectively, it has turned out that Foh not having the hyped road construction project made no difference at the end of the day. This is because Thomas Koroma (the small brother of His Excellency, President Dr. Earnest Bai Koroma) who eventually landed the contract is more a trick than Victor Foh. Thomas Koroma is a Loko from the APC stronghold of Northern Sierra Leone and he is the President’s closest brother. Even though Thomas Koroma does not understand  engineering, he was the best contractor in the whole of Sierra Leone to construct the Kenema-Koindu highway.

The Kenema-Koindu highway was the hyped campaign propaganda meant to cajole the Easterners to vote for the incumbent Earnest Bai Koroma. The campaign centered around the Kenema-Koindu highway, the Bo-Pujehun highway, the Wilkinson Road in the heart of Freetown and other road construction projects in especially the Southeast brought Earnest Bai Koroma to another five-year Presidency in the just concluded elections in Sierra Leone. APC argued that come the dry season, the Kenema-Koindu highway will be all but a thoroughly tarred four-lane road running into the hinterlands of the Eastern Province.

Almost two years after the elections and eight years after SLPP secured funds for the projects, it is clear that Thomas Koroma (the superhighway contractor) altogether eyes the rainy season as the best window of opportunity to start construction of the road. Thomas, the APC top contractor, has developed a patented calculus called Reverse Engineering for constructing roads in election years — next to be in 2017/18 in Sierra Leone. Thomas argues that his patented innovation of the millennia in the construction industry could perform best under worst weather conditions, which is the heavily wet rainy season in the Southern and Eastern Provinces of Sierra Leone. According to Thomas, road construction under worst weather conditions using his invented Reverse Engineering meant that the road will last beyond eternity, and is in essence a “living road” — meaning that any such road never  wears out. The basic logic of Thomas’ Reverse Engineering construction code is that not even a dime could be wasted in constructing any such super-roads as hundred percent of the project funds will be reverted to the personal bank accounts of all relevant stakeholders. In just the space of sever years, similar hyper-inventions of lucrative contract codes have turned all the big-potatoes of the Koroma-led APC government into the billionaires we have in Sierra Leone today.

Even when the rainy season is still months away, plying the Kenema-Koindu route today on foot is by far faster and safer than doing so using the most powerful automobiles. Based on the current road conditions, it takes at least two days by the fastest and strongest automobile (call it SUVs or Supper Cars) to cover the less-than one hundred kilometer road from Kenema to Koindu. So it is now but all clear that Jesus Christ must descend from heaven to supervise that road construction or we will have to continue to muddle our souls in that heavy clay-mud road.

The conditions of the roads network, especially in the Southern and Eastern Provinces of Sierra Leone, are very deplorable that everyone today questions the essence of paying taxes in the country. Even right in the capital city of Freetown, it is not an uncommon scene today to have automobiles stuck in massive potholes in the streets across the city. With the exception of the Northern Province, where three-to-four lane tarred roads are everywhere, road traffic across the country remains a source of frustration and nightmare in the over-hyped APC Agenda for Prosperity.

Even the APC fans who were jubilant on the promise of 24-plus-hour streetlight, 24-plus-hour tap-water and ninety-nine percent economic growth now seemed cornered in the APC Agenda for Prosperity. In just few months into President Dr. Earnest Bai Koroma’s second term of office, all the promised streetlights and tap-water system have been rolled back and the over-hyped economic growth has disintegrated into a catastrophic economic nightmare. What a Reverse Governance pursued by His Excellency, Presidency Dr. Earnest Bai Koroma! We will not be surprised if APC also develops a Reverse Election code in the would-be 2017/18 elections as a way of holding onto power forever.

So much has turned for the worst in Sierra Leone today that the country is tilting towards a failed state. Right under our own face, the streetlights put up before the elections have now been systematically uprooted. The hyper-expensive Wilkinson Road has turned into a path of potholes barely a year after its construction and is now nothing but a well-built death-trap. It is all like we have, in our own various ways, helped to put in place a government of extortionists in Sierra Leone. Could Sierra Leone survive this wind of exploitation? Only God knows!

By Sulay B. Conteh

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