From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, Parliament Ratifies Fibre Cable Agreement with Controversy
By Mohamed Kanu
Jul 21, 2010, 18:00

Controversially the House of Parliament on Tuesday 20th¬†July 2010 ratified governmentís motion on the agreement of laying the fibre cables on the following

I. (for the membership and participation in the Africa Coast to Europe Telecommunication undersea cable consortium ACE Consortium under the proposed West Africa regional communication infrastructure Program) between the republic of Sierra Leone and the Sierra Leone Cable limited dated 13th July 2010.

II. On the ratification of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable construction and maintenance (C&MA) dated 5th June 2010.

The two motions which was table in parliament leave opposition members in dismay as they were not satisfied with the procedural aspect of the bill.

Speaking in the well of parliament, honorable Tamba Kai Banja of opposition Sierra Leone peopleís Party (SLPP) said their party is being treated with contempt for such a voluminous agreement to be table and ratified in parliament on the same day, adding that the Public have always been blaming the house for passing laws in hasty manner within a very short period of time. For that reason, he said more time needed to be allocated to them for proper study of the agreement. He further claimed that no certificate of urgency was attached to the agreement, adding that the party is not a rubber stamp opposition to be accepting whatever decision that is taken by the ruling party.

For his part, Honorable Tamba Sam also of SLPP described the ratification as a hasty one as it contains incomplete guidelines of the Anti Corruption Commission. He said in as much as landing of the optic fibre cables is aimed at providing affordable communication facility in the country, parliament needed not to rush to ratify such a bill.

Responding to questions posed to him by rational members of parliament, the Minister of Information and Communication Ibrahim Ben Kargbo pointed out that Sierra Leone is one of the few countries that have taken this agreement to parliament, adding that the World Bank which is a strong partner to Sierra Leone in this development will not give an advice that misleads the Sierra Leone government. He disclosed that the World Bank has given part of the US$30 million loan to kick staff the project.

He finally assured that landing of the fibre cables in Sierra Leone will help the government to meet the MDG, and will also create more employment for Sierra Leoneans as it is a fifteen- year long project which would be renewed at different interval.

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