Engineers Brace Up For Development

 

By Pateh Bah

Track Your Build (TYB) together with Sierra Leone Institutions of Engineers and Life By Design Group on 31st May, 2019 held an infrastructure and construction (INFRACON) symposium at the Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel, Aberdeen, Freetown.

The symposium attracted stakeholders from various infrastructure sectors, including, energy and power telecommunications, among others. It also witnessed six discussion panels on various topics which will witness the drafting of a communiqué in the coming weeks. The symposium also saw a pitch competition involving ten engineering students where three of them, two from FBC and the other from Njala University, eventually won grants of fifteen million Leones (Le 15,000,000) each to develop their projects.

Making his contribution, Executive Director of CEMMATS Group, Ing Andrew Keilli disclosed that most government projects are marred by poor management and planning as lack of political will continues to pose threat as, according to him, “those in the procurement are not interested in the end result.” According to the seasoned Engineer cum politician, civil society organizations and the media are strong implementing partners as their role in mitigating political interference remains key. According to Ing Andrew Keilli, Local content is not working and that inter-agency cooperation remains a thorn in the flesh.

Giving the keynote address, leading Civil Engineer and Project Manager, Ing Trudy Morgan stated that engineers play a crucial role in the country’s economy as infrastructure development has corresponding economic gains thereby contributing to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Sierra Leone. She appealed to authorities at Fourah Bay College (FBC) to introduce mentor programmes in the three departments in order to ensure that engineers meet current needs of the country in tandem with international best practices as the need to be competent and hardworking should not be overemphasized. According to Ing Trudy Morgan, engineers play a crucial role in complementary the efforts of the Mayor of the Freetown Municipality in her Transform Freetown Project.

On his part, Director of Life By Design Group, Mr. Joe Abass Bangura did not mince his words when he stated that the country continues to grapple with job creation and local content because, as he puts it, “most Sierra Leones lack the requisite competence, experience and ability to deliver, especially those who have never gone beyond the borders of the country.” According to the motivational speaker, Training of Trainee should be the watchword as students in the Engineering departments should have practical knowledge before leaving the university. He therefore appealed to relevant authorities for change of curriculum in order to be in line with modern trend.

Representing the Office of Presidential Infrastructure Initiative, Engineering Design and Project Management Engineer, Ing Abdul K. Njai stated that apart from the culture of lateness and indiscipline Sierra Leoneans are competent. He urged that even feasibility on the Lungi Bridge was done by 98% Sierra Leoneans. He further disclosed that the Freetown Coastal Road which is in partnership with the Freetown City Council (FCC) is expected to be done by Sierra Leoneans.

On his part, the Principal Admin Officer of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority (SLPA) Mr. Mohamed Magazuba disclosed that Freetown Terminal Limited (FTL) Berth Expansion was completed before the stipulated time owing to political will and astute leadership of key stakeholders at the helm of affairs. He furthered that in terms of transparency, investment and entrepreneurship, the SLPA is committed to promoting business through due diligence, care and partners’ satisfaction by working round the clock so as to ensure its business partners, especially FTL, provides the needed quality service delivery prudent for business in order to boost credibility, confidence and trust. According to him, effective and efficient collaboration among partners remains centre stage.

Founder and Managing Director, TYB, Ing Edmond B. Nonie disclosed that Sierra Leone is one of the six low-income countries set to achieve 6% or higher growth rates in the not too distant future probably in the 2020s. Infrastructure, he said, remains key in order to achieve the said target. By 2025, Ing. Nonie furthered that the GDP, according to African Development Bank (ADP) Projects, will increase to US$5.3 Trillion making the continent the next center for economic growth in the world. If Sierra Leone is to benefit from that, he said, the country must boost infrastructure, which is best achieved through Public Private Partnerships

Ing Nonie also used the platform to express his profound thanks and appreciation to both local and international sponsors including, CEMATS Group, Life By Design Group, UBA Sierra Leone, Free Trans Sierra Leone, Savics Belgium, Exponential Launch Partners New York, among others.