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Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 May 2023:
Sierra Leone’s most globally recognised and iconic landmark – the Freetown Cotton, succumbed to heavy rains and ferocious winds two nights ago. With only its stem now standing proudly as if taking its final bow before leaving the stage, after centuries of battering from the monsoon rain and dry harmattan winds, questions are now being asked about the future of the site.
The centuries old Freetown Cotton Tree was an historic monument, gifted by nature to the hundreds of freed Trans-Atlantic Slaves who arrived on the shores of Sierra Leone from USA, Canada, the Caribbean, and mid Ocean, following the abolition of slavery.
The new arrivals to the shores of Sierra Leone in an area christened – “the Land of the Free” – FREETOWN, became known as the Krios. Thousands of acres of land – “the Land of the Free” – bought by the British colonial government from local chiefs for the settlement of the new arrivals became home to the Krios.
A new Sierra Leone was born with the arrival of the Krios and the creation of Freetown the capital of the nation, and the Cotton Tree – at the heart of the capital.
With its roots and branches representing all the diverse people, cultures and languages of Sierra Leone, the death of the Freetown Cotton Tree has left behind not only its stem standing but questions about the country’s political and economic future.
Survived by over 7 million people, the Freetown Cotton Tree has not only witnessed generations of political leaders that have come and gone but has served as the only living thing standing right next to the seat of power – just yards away from the country’s Law Courts Building – to have witnessed centuries of human rights abuses, poor governance and bad leadership that have brought so much misery to the people of Sierra Leone – a country classed as one of the poorest in the world.
But as the saying goes – “where there is life, there is hope”. And this was poignantly captured yesterday on social media by Idris Elba who said this about the fallen Freetown Cotton Tree: “This is very sad. The roots remain. Sierra Leone.”
Speaking just hours after the Cotton Tree had fallen, President Bio said: “The iconic Cotton Tree has fallen due to the heavy downpour of rain in our capital this evening. A great loss to the nation. It was regarded as a symbol of liberty and freedom by early settlers. We will have something at the same spot that bears testament to the great Cotton Tree’s place in our history. All voices will be brought together for this.”
Yesterday, the President went to the site as though to pay his last respect to a fallen hero. After his visit, President Bio said: “Today, I visited the site which has hosted our historic Cotton Tree for over two centuries in the centre of Freetown. It was a surreal sight to behold as I walked past the fallen Big Cotton Tree.
“The Cotton Tree is engrained in the rich cultural heritage of Freetown. To preserve this legacy for future generations, the relics of the fallen Cotton Tree will be taken to the National Museum by the Monument and Relics Commission. The preservation efforts will be spearheaded by the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs to serve as a reminder of our shared heritage and history.
“For us, the Cotton Tree wasn’t just a tree, it was a connection between the past, present and the future and we must strive to immortalise it. We also take solace in the knowledge that when a tree falls naturally due to extreme weather, a new life spring forward.
“Thank you to all the patriots who came out in solidarity. I implore all Citizens to respect the rich cultural heritage of the iconic Cotton Tree by applying restraint to tamper or demolish the fallen Tree. Together, we will preserve the legacy of unity, freedom and liberty of our iconic Cotton Tree.”
Credited to: www.thesierraleonetelegraph.com/
Karpowership energy company donates five ventilators value about D6 million to the Government of The Gambia.
Presenting the medical equipment at State House, Vice President Isatou Touray, the chairperson of the Covid-19 Ministerial Committee, thanks Karpowership for its “timely assistance”and said the ventilators will greatly help the health ministry’s comeback in fighting the flu pandemic.
A highly-placed source at the ministry told standard that there are about 20 ventilators in the country. Nonetheless, the source could not make it clear whether that number includes the five donated by Karpowership which had arrived in the country lately.
Vice President Touray noted that Covid-19 is a pandemic requiring a lot of mechanism and as such, government could not do it alone. “Karpowership takes its corporate social responsibility seriously and this is what is expected and we thank you for helping the government and the people of The Gambia for your great intervention,” she concluded.
Mr Ceesay a former permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health, said a ventilator takes over the body’s breathing process when disease caused the lungs to fail.
‘He said according to the WHO, 80 percent of people with the Covid-19 disease are cured without needing hospital treatment but one person in six becomes seriously ill.
In these severe cases, he noted, the virus causes damage to the lungs, causing the body’s oxygen levels to drop and make it harder to breathe.’
Former Gambian health minister, Omar Sey has insistently contradicted Minister Dr Ahmadou Samateh’s allegations that funds that were meant to fight Ebola were mismanaged.
*Minister Samateh told lawmakers last Saturday during the debate on the extension of state of emergency that the Ebola funds were wasted and equipment which were said to be procured never reached the country.*
But Sey, who was the minister of health during the outbreak of the Ebola crisis, denied this: “The money never came to the ministry of health. It was all handled at the level of the UNDP and the procurement process was also done by the UNDP.We were just handed the materials and everything”.
Sey explained that, when the Ebola escalation was reported in the sub-region, the government put up an Ebola response task force but no money was taken from government because this was around end of year.
“We worked with the UNDP and there was a donor conference in Dakar which I attended with the finance minister and presented our plan. The plan attracted lot of interests from the UN and CSOs who really wanted to help,” he said.
He said the plan was then taken to the UN South-South Cooperation platform and the Japanese government decided to fund some of the activities.
“And all those funds came through the UNDP as the middle body responsible to build point of entries in the border villages, procurement of motor bicycles, ambulances, pickup trucks and some equipment including the ones at the airport”, Sey said.
“So based on the activity plan, funds are released from the WHO account at Standard Chartered Bank to the ministry of health account at the Standard Chartered in the name of the PS ministry of health. The PS will make a request and sign the cheque and give it to the subcommittee to go and implement their activities,” he explained.
As the debate on the two-term limitation in the draft constitution tantrum is on, a foremost constitutional lawyer has accorded with the cabinet that President Barrow’s first term cannot start from 2017.
The Standard issued he cabinet’s agitation about certain provisions in the draft, among which is the two-term limit which bars President Barrow from running after 2021 election.
Briefing as a panelist on the Paradise TV national exchange of views on the final draft constitution Saturday, Barrister Lamin J Darbo, while pointing what he seen as “too many conflicts” in the final draft constitution, said if Barrow wins next election, then his first term should start from there.
“There is a fundamental issue in the constitution: retroactive application of constitutional provisions. It is in the 1997 constitution Section 102 C. The president’s right to serve as president is vested. In this other constitution also, the same thing. No retroactive application. So the president’s term cannot start from 2017. Whatever you think about it; whatever your views about the president and his government, what we must always do is to ensure that we are fair in our national conversations; ensure that we abide by the rule of law; it is very important. And the rule of law is really scuttled as far as commencing the president’s two-year term from 2017. This of course is a democratic process, but are we assuming that the president is going to win in 2021? Even if that assumption is correct, his term should not start from 2017. That is something we need to look at,” Darbo said.
Barrister Darbo concured that the executive has hold on to the draft longer than required but the agenda of the executive often spoken about is actually lawful.
“Some people say the president should take it the National Assembly; I agree it spent a lot of time with the executive. That is needless. And the executive also has its own agenda but that is legitimate because the executive is a legitimate stakeholder,” he added.
After months of findings into the diplomatic passport scandal that hit the country last year, 14 individuals have now been indicted with various offences, judicial sources informed The Standard.
The scandal bothered he Barrow government in November 2019 when at least 20 individuals were taken into custody for their accused involvement in the issuance of Gambia’s diplomatic passport for financial gains.
The arrested individuals included officials from Immigration, Police, foreign ministry and others.
The scandal gained international attention, with the foreign ministry disclosing members of the Diplomatic and Consular corp in September on the investigations.
Nonetheless, it looks like the matter is kind of put in to control now as it is heading to the courts now. Ministry of Justice has already put forward the charges, waiting for a judge to be chosen for the case before a hearing.
The individuals are charged with various offences ranging from obtaining money by false pretences, forgery: making false documents; uttering false documents; theft; receiving stolen goods; to making documents without authority.
*Last year the Government Spokesman Ebrima Sankareh told the media that the investigation panel had also contacted Interpol to write to their counterparts and to revoke the diplomatic passports issued to some investors, who acquired the diplomatic passports.*
Sankareh stated that President Adama Barrow had promised that there will be “no sacred cows; no one will be spared in these investigations regardless of one’s position”.
The Solicitor General, Cherno Marenah, make known to The Standard that the opinion has already been done and that the case will go to court.
The Standard understands that 20 individuals were initially recommended for prosecution.
The inhabitants of Raneru village in Sami District of the Central River Region (CRR) have taken oath to boycott all national elections if government fails to bring sustainable development to their doorsteps.
“If we do not have our needs before the next elections we will not cast our votes,” Sheriff Sallah, chairman of Raneru Village Youth Development (RVYD) told The Point.
“From 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon the people would be fetching water for drinking and other domestic uses. And from 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. the cattle farmers would also start fetching water for their cattle,” he disclosed.
Sallah asserted that the livestock borehole is about 200 meters away from the community but in spite of that distance, the inhabitants have to carry gallons of water on heads as well on donkey carts to their various homes.
Alh. Adama Talla, chairman for the Village Development Committee (VDC) said: “We do not have water at all because we now depend on the cattle’s borehole to get water. It has no taps. It only has a pine that goes to reservoir.”
Therefore, he said the villagers have to get water from that pine for drinking and other domestic uses.
“We also have opened well in the village but that water is not good. The women have to sieves it severally before putting into the jars for drinking,” he said.
He said they believe casting votes for politicians is not of any significance for them because they always put people in office who end up doing nothing to solve their problems.
“We will boycott election because we are just voting for people in vain; therefore, abstaining ourselves from voting is better for us,” he expressed.
Sainabou Camara, resident of Raneru: “The lack of sufficient water supply in the village has affected us so severely because we do not have adequate water in our homes.” she said.
They are calling on both government and nongovernmental organisations to come to their aid.
The Gambia Armed Forces yesterday confirmed the taken in to custody of the man who fired a gun to frighten drug law enforcement officers at the Kalagi checkpoint last week.
According to army spokesman Major Lamin Sanyang, the man has been identified as a soldier and Lance Corporal Nuha Conteh of the State Guard unit.
He said the soldier is being held in custody by the military police who are still finding necessary clues about the matter.
As understood by Standard, the soldier, in his hurry to escape, unintentionally left some clues of his identity in the bags which led investigators to him as he reported for duty on Monday.
Staff at the Banjul stated their motives to relocate to Senegal saying that. “The Covid-19 outbreak are both used by the management as smoke screen. The real motive is, and has always been to relocate the factory to Senegal and use The Gambia as just a sales depot,” a spokesman of the staff said.
The staff noted that such a move will only benefit the company as it will save millions of taxes paid annually to the Gambia government as well as operation costs on both human and capital investments.
“They have already conducted a survey to see the possibilities of this hidden initiative. They want to use the factory in Senegal and change this brewery into a subsidiary to be managed by few employees. The Gambia government must not allow this plan to go ahead, because it will only trigger dire economic distress on the lives of the people and the state in terms of taxes.”
As said by the staff, the company is financially stable to sustain its operations in the country.
In an internal memo issued by the management and seen by the Standard, it stated the factory would need an investment of €2 million to sustain current operations and that after several economic assessments, cash required for necessary capital investment is “totally disproportionate to the envisaged profitability of the business”.
It further states that “most of the staff will be made redundant from May 1 and they will be compensated according to the labour laws” of The Gambia.
When The Standard visited the company premises for the management’s reaction to the claims, the security officers at the gate would not allow access, saying they are told not to allow journalists into the premises
The Chinese ambassador to The Gambia, His Excellency Ma Jianchun on 12 February 2020 met with Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, the minister of Health for the third time amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19).
The Chinese diplomat and Gambian Health minister exchanged views on further strengthening communication and cooperation in preventing the outbreak in The Gambia.
Ambassador Ma briefed Dr. Samateh on his meeting with H.E. President Adama Barrow on Monday, 10 February, during which they discussed at length the joint efforts in preventing the COVID-19 in The Gambia. He also updated Dr. Samateh on new measures taken and progress made by the Chinese government in curbing the outbreak and treating infected patients. As of today, more than 160 medical teams and over 19,800 medical staff nationwide, including 14,000 nurses and many military medical personnel, have been dispatched to Hubei province, the epicenter of the pneumonia outbreak. Now in China, daily number of newly confirmed infection cases in regions outside Hubei province has been decreasing, and the number of infected persons traveling from China to other countries has been brought down to near zero. Ambassador Ma expressed appreciation to the Gambian government for its consistent solidarity with China in the battle against the COVID-19 outbreak. From what has been achieved so far, the Ambassador showed more confidence that China will soon win the battle.
Hon. Dr. Samateh once again expressed to Ambassador Ma the sympathy and solidarity from the Gambian side. He commended China for efficiently implementing effective control measures at home and conducting active cooperation with the international society since the very beginning of the outbreak. Hon. Dr. Samateh talked about the Gambia government’s new efforts in keeping the country free from the COVID-19 outbreak along with The Gambia’s development partners especially in terms of strengthening entry surveillance, capacity building and community sensitisation, etc. He expressed confidence that further communication and cooperation between his ministry and the Chinese Embassy will result in better prospects in effectively preventing the outbreak in The Gambia.
Ambassador Ma spoke highly of the efforts by the Gambian side in preventing the outbreak, expressed the willingness of the Chinese Embassy to stand together with the Gambian Ministry of Health in the battle against the novel coronavirus pneumonia. He further added that a new batch of medical supplies donated by the Chinese government, aiming at helping strengthening The Gambia’s public health system, has arrived at Banjul Port.