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By Titus Boye-Thompson
Jan 23, 2013, 17:02
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The All Peoples Congress (APC) Party made a big play for voters to back all their candidates in the recently concluded elections and for very good reasons. The slogan which reverberated across the Country called empathically for the electorate to vote FOUR 4 FOUR, admonishing voters to cast their four ballots for the APC Candidates. In this way, voters have used this unique opportunity to secure majority representation by APC Candidates across all four sections of Governance namely;  Local Councils, Municipality, Parliamentary, and Presidential candidates. As the APC campaign team pushed the four for  four mantra, it became quickly evident that most candidates would feed off the charismatic and energetic campaign style of the Party Chairman and Leader, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma.


By far, the Presidential Campaign led by the APC Flag bearer set the pace for the rest of the pack to follow.His energetic style and tasking tours of the Country left even some of his own supporters gasping for breath. The messages that followed the Presidential campaign spoke to the achievements of the President as a visionary leader, to the successes of his government as a development oriented and dynamic team that had scored several goals with the Agenda for Change. Such was his campaign positioned especially with the skillful use of football imagery that the world best tag became a hard game to follow.


As the Presidential campaign gathered speed, the imperative to present the President with a workable team in governance made much more sense even to the ordinary man in the street. The consensus was that if the President is assured of a party majority across the different layers of Governance, his ability to lead the country according to his own fashion will be strengthened and it will make the passing of laws and the maintenance of the Municipalities across the Country much more amenable to collaborative working and mutuality in reaching or otherwise taking hard decisions. It was widely accepted that a fractured political landscape would not augur well for smooth democracy, for ease of governance or in any event for the rapid transformation that President Koroma had promised in his promulgation of the Agenda for Prosperity.


That the call for FOUR 4 FOUR was a call for sensible representation, an overwhelming victory for the APC Party and a reasonable chance for Government to work in synchronization across all the tiers of governance is now being put to the test as the elections are now over and the actual process of taking stock of the situation of the Country and its municipalities are being considered. A first impact and situation analysis comes from the changes to street trading and environmental management of Freetown and other major cities that have been asserted under operation WID. 


Operation WID is being spearheaded by State House, with Presidential approval and direction. It engages the appropriate stakeholders with the responsibility to change the way street trading has hitherto been handled with a view to arresting the environmental decline in Municipal areas. In Freetown. Operation WID has had a greater impact on a constituency that is widely regarded as APC loyalists and on a group of people who represent a significant section of the economic backbone of the city. It is no secret that Market Traders contribute significantly to the revenue raising functions of the Freetown City Council and as such Market Traders have in some ways relied on that fiscal relationship as reasonable assurances that their activities were either marginally legal or optimally acceptable as legitimate.


The early successes of Operation WID may well be translated as a discomfiture to traditional supporters of the APC and in the event, those opposed to the swift operations of Government in dealing with a vexed issue of the rapid growth in street trading and its attendant environmental degradation of City life now attempt to use this as a counter campaign. The responsibility to manage the city and to deal constructively with what has become a menace is one that calls for some tough decisions. The propagation of OKADA riders in such wanton recklessness and a complete disregard for traffic rules at times putting lives at risk is also a matter for which Government needed to act and act swiftly to address. Operation WID is the first gain of FOUR 4 FOUR and as such must be seen and taken in its proper context.


Operation WID necessitates that those who have previously eked out their living from street trading activities will be moved on, especially from spaces where there are no authority to occupy as trading areas. That there are no immediate markets or trading zones created to counter the decanting of traders along the main thoroughfares is a difficulty accepted by both local and central Government. Such a situation would of necessity be addressed with speed. Even as Operation WID is being strategically phased-in across the city, plans are being assessed for some practical interventions to relieve the tensions caused by the decanting. There are plans to increase the areas allocated for petty traders, plans for the construction and erection of uniform and dismountable market stalls, plans for widening some market spaces so that more effective use would be made of the spaces currently available and also plans for pedestrianizing some streets and roads within the city center that would act as non-traffic market spaces at specific times of the day. There should be no doubt that the challenge to redress any loss to such a significant population would be of serious concern to Government.

Those who are seeking to use the current situation in a negative way should be mindful that whatever happens, there is a nationalistic responsibility to make our spaces environmentally friendly and safe, that our cities should be clean and regularly cleaned and efficiently managed and that the propagation of lawlessness, irascible behavior and senseless violations of traffic rules and regulations are held at bay.


There is a responsibility also to acknowledge that the City administrators have to take strong and hard decisions for the benefit of the Citys residents. The overwhelming sentiments have been positive as traffic flows are much swiftly now and in areas where Operation WID have been effected, there is the discernible evidence of cleaner and more environmentally friendly surroundings. The leadership of market traders who have engaged with Government are also positive that some good results have been evidenced from its operations. Street Traders have also endorsed the operation in its entirety even as they lament the lack of open space or other more amenable environments to relocate. As Freetown, Bo and other major Municipalities use this opportunity to clean up their environments, now is the time for Sierra Leoneans to see this as an acceptable development goal. The Campaign slogan of FOUR 4 FOUR has already borne positive developmental goals for Sierra Leone. Even as the first cut has gone against loyal supporters of the APC, it is reassuring to note that the APC is even stronger now than before.



This is a Party and a Government that is committed to changing development outcomes, and as the man in the street said to the boy on the road, FOUR for FOUR NOR TO FOR BAD, NAR FOR DEVELOPMENT!

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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