APC – ‘De Gron Dry’ SLPP – ‘We Don Soak Am’

The failure by the the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) led ‘New Direction’ administration to honor outstanding pensions, gratuities and benefits due officials of the former All People’s Congress (APC) government coupled with other economic challenges saw the latter lamenting that ‘de gron dry,’ meaning times are hard.

In a bid to address the concerns of aggrieved APC officials, the SLPP now say that they have harkened to the supplications of APC and have ‘soaked the ground’ for them by allocating the handsome sum of Le33.4 billion (50% of their benefits and gratuities) to them.

Whilst both parties refused to bury the hatchet after 2018 elections and engaged themselves in an unfriendly manner both in and out of Parliament, the successful mediation by Hon. Alpha Khan at the Bintumani III Peace and National Cohesion Conference with the Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, where he told both parties that to dialogue is better than to fight, has paid off handsomely.

Their monthly pensions from June, 2019 will be paid by NASSIT, going forward. The Ministry of Finance (MoF) notes that the payments were not made earlier because they were not included in the 2018 budget, but that with the disbursement of US$13.5 million by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it is possible for the ‘New Direction’ government to pay the former APC political appointees.

Meanwhile, many hard pressed citizens have commented that this generous sum to 371 former APC government officials comes at a time when hardship has hit the people of this country most of whom  live below or slightly above the monthly minimum wage of Le500, 000 coupled with the alarming hike in the prices of  basic essential goods due to the depreciation of the Leone against the United States Dollar.

However, the  people still believe that the SLPP led government should do more for the downtrodden who continue to eke out a miserable existence on less than 2 dollars a day; many with families to support; still many more, unemployed.

As the situation stands, the biggest headache the average earning family faces is that of bread and butter – putting food on the table, as  the Minister of Finance had boasted that the ‘New Direction’ government if voted would address.

Next is the cost of transportation. With the recent increase in prices of fuel, many unscrupulous commercial vehicle drivers,  ‘kekeh,’ and ‘okada’ riders, particularly in the towns and cities who now charge people indiscriminately to convey them from point A to B on the excuse that fuel price has gone up but merely by 7.5% – an increase that has been captured in the new prices announced by the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, taking into consideration the change that commercial drivers used to rob us off because Sierra Leone no longer uses Le100 and Le50O coins.

Equally guilty of wanting to turn the slight fuel price increase into a wide field to exploit market women and traders are heavy haulage vehicle drivers that bring foodstuffs from the provinces to the towns and cities that have decided to add to the suffering of the people by defying the government order for them to retain prices as they were; given that they benefited a lot when the government earlier this year reduced fuel prices.

This unpatriotic and unsympathetic attitude of commercial vehicle drivers have prompted the people to call on the Ministry of Transport to, in league with the different transport unions, take concrete steps to rein in wayward commercial vehicle drivers who want to make it a field day to exploit their fellow sufferers by charging fares indiscriminately at their whims and caprices, which many have said will only go to add to inflation and the suffering of the masses.