By Jarrah Kawusu-Konte, Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Freetown, Kingtom: President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma (GCOR) has challenged the Sierra Leone Police Force (SLP) to round up the criminals and secure the people of Sierra Leone. He made this statement at a well attended ceremony of the handing over of 52 vehicles and communication equipment to the SLP at the forces’ parade grounds, Kingtom on Friday 25th May.
Delivering his keynote address as Guest of Honour, the gallant President Koroma said his presence at the august ceremony was further indication of his commitment to enhancing the capacity of the SLP to discharge its constitutional role in maintaining law and order as well and defending and protecting the properties of the populace.
He lauded ceaseless efforts of the SLP in promoting peace and democracy in the country, but also in its comportment in international peacekeeping missions under the United Nations. “I am also here to commend the Sierra Leone Police on the progress they are making in rebranding the image of the country on the international scene. Your participation in international peacekeeping missions has been lauded at the United Nations. You are indeed a force for good, a force for peace, and a force for democracy”, President Koroma said.
The President went on to note, “Let me also commend you for ensuring that this country is amongst the safest of post conflict nations in the world, with a crime rate that is also low. Members of the Security Council during their visit here this week also commended the Sierra Leone Police for their laudable efforts.”
In spite of the many accomplishments of the SLP in discharging its statutory role as well as rebranding the country in international peacekeeping missions, there remain serious challenges which if not nip in the bud, have the propensity to undermine these enviable accolades won by the police.
According to President Ernest Bai Koroma, “one such challenge is reckless driving and the many vehicles that are not road worthy. This year alone, over a hundred citizens have lost their lives as a result of accidents along our roads. The Sierra Leone Police must step up their operational efficiency to secure the lives and properties of our people along the highways.”
He also mentioned the rainy season, which he said, “is usually the time when rates of armed robberies go up. The Sierra Leone Police must battle this scourge. Our people demand that the Force for Good must prevent these crimes, round up the criminals and secure our people from this menace.”
President Koroma expressed fervent hope in the capacity of the SLP to deliver on its mandate by maintaining like an expert in “Operational Management”, that, “improving your operational efficiency will enhance your standing amongst our people. Together with teachers, health workers and traditional rulers, you are the face of the state, you are the agents of the state that people are familiar with, you are on the frontline, and you must translate the international laurels you are winning into enhanced local appreciation of your role. I believe you can do it, and I know you will do it.
He reiterated government’s commitment to making sure that the SLP have the capacity and capability to succeed in its work. “Today we are handing over the keys for 52 vehicles to the police as part of ongoing building of police capacity to respond to incidents and enhance peaceful elections. Two riot control vehicles have also been procured and will be with the police in June. We are also procuring equipment for the non-lethal management of public order. We are in the bidding process to construct forty self-contained accommodation units to transform the Police Training Center into an academy that will award professional qualifications and attract international students”, he revealed.
The President further informed that, “We are also improving the welfare conditions of police officers. We have built two new hospital blocks at Kingtom for the police and work on a police hospital in Kenema is nearing completion. A revised condition of service for the police is now with the Police Council.”
The climax of the ceremony was immediately discerned when President Ernest Bai Koroma disclosed that every officer would now receive a 50Kg bag of rice every month. “As a further demonstration of my government’s determination to improve the condition of service for the Sierra Leone Police, we are with immediate effect providing police officers with a bag of rice every month”, he emphasized.
He concluded that government shall continue to work tirelessly to build the capacity of the police. “In return, the people of this country demand more improvement in your operational efficiency; they demand greater professionalism, and they expect you to secure their lives and properties along the highways, in their homes and their communities.
We know the police are building their capacity to ensure proper policing during the November elections. But policing is not only about elections. It is also about ensuring safety now, it is about preventing armed robberies now, and it is about enforcing regulations to prevent accidents on our highways now. We must continue to robustly protect lives and property well before the elections, during the elections and way after the elections”, while expressing government’s appreciation of the United States, Britain, the Commonwealth, the UNDP, China and Nigeria for their wonderful support towards building the capacity of the SLP on the one hand, and the Security Sector in general.
“Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the people and government of the Republic of Sierra Leone, it is now my honor to hand over the vehicles and other assets to the Sierra Leone Police”, he declared.