From the Editor’s Keyboard

On Sundry Matters

1 March 2008 at 07:06 | 950 views

Editorial

Upsurge in Criminal Activities

As a country emerging from a devastating war, Sierra Leone has been faced with various forms of criminal activity ranging from simple thievery to massive corruption and armed robbery.

There are many ex-combatants with nothing to do and with no food in their stomachs. Such people easily turn to crime and we all know that not all the guns were handed over to UN officials during the disarmament and demobilization days. This is a problem faced by the former government and the current one. What’s the solution? We suggest that government moblises the people to work with the police for their own safety and protection.

The Sierra Leone police does not have the resources to cover every nook and corner of the country but with the full participation of the public this will be possible. We are not calling for the arming of any civilian but volunteers could be recruited to patrol the country’s urban areas at night to keep track of and stop criminal elements lurking in the various neighbourhoods. With some incentives as we have seen in the national cleaning day exercise, the young and unemployed would have something useful to do. These young people usually know the criminals in their neighbourhoods and can be of great use to the state under strict police supervision.

Political Violence
There has been a lot of political violence in various parts of the country in recent weeks. This is also not a new phenomenon but something that has been part of Sierra Leone’s history from the late 60s to the present.

From experience we know that such violence is usually the handiwork of disgruntled and power-drunk politicians using young and illiterate people to do their dirty work. We therefore call on all politicians especially those from the two major parties(APC and SLPP) to restrain themselves and remember the civil war that destroyed many lives and property. They should remember that civil strife can swallow anybody, not just the perceived enemy or opponent. The Liberians say "Rat trap is not for rat alone." They should know.

The violence you encourage or unleash may come back and bite you when you least expect. A word to the wise is sufficient.

Cost of Living
People are complaining about the cost of living in Sierra Leone these days. Again, this is not new. What is new is that the APC is in power. We don’t think any government would deliberately make life difficult for its people although criminal elements within it do cause havoc.

Maybe the government is following IMF/World Bank prescriptions by cutting down on many things. The Minister of Finance says they are working on a tight budget, spending only what they receive. There are many factors at play here which should be explained to the people.

Stringent price control may not be the answer either. Maybe the country’s traditional donors should infuse more foreign exchange to help importers to import essential commodities.Importers are paying very high prices for foreign currency to import the things people need in the country. They in turn pass on this burden to the final consumer(the suffering masses) as you would expect in any market economy.

We don’t have the answers, but are merely speculating and making suggestions. The experts in government should therefore speak out more. Communication is crucial when the going gets tough. Over to you the experts.

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