The tabled audited report on the 100 buses secured on loan by the government of Sierra Leone to the House of Parliament yesterday revealed a shocking news that “as at 30 September 2015 there was no agreement on who would pay for the buses.”

100 Red Buses

At a loan cost of US$12,291,920 (Le61,459,600,000) secured from the Chinese and payable over a period of 4 – 5 years, the buses commenced service in Sierra Leone in July 2015. The report also found out that the Sierra Leone Roads Transport Corporation lacked “adequate control over the banking of ticket sales by sales agents operating at the central bus station in Freetown and in provincial locations”.

This further raises public concerns about how the government is managing and servicing its debts repayments so that they are not unduly passed on to tax payers at a time when living standards are dropping in the face of rapid inflation.

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The audit on the buses was conducted by the Audit Sierra Leone office and they reviewed the period between July and September 2015. This revelation of no agreed documentation on who is to repay the loan plus accrued interest could be a major embarrassment for the government who had touted the procurement of these Chinese buses as a major overhaul to the transportation sector with the Minister of Transport, Mr Balogun Koroma, expressing confidence that the loan would be paid.

Below are key highlights of the report:

The Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation had been unable to efficiently and effectively manage public bus services and had limited facilities and expertise to operate a passenger bus service throughout the country.

The contract to purchase 100 new buses was signed by the Ministry of Transport and Aviation in May 2014, but there was no coordinated comprehensive plan for the introduction of the new buses into service. As such, the Corporation was not properly prepared to operate and maintain the new buses when they entered into service in July 2015

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The contract to purchase 100 new buses was signed by the Ministry of Transport and Aviation in May 2014, but there was no coordinated comprehensive plan for the introduction of the new buses into service. As such, the Corporation was not properly prepared to operate and maintain the new buses when they entered into service in July 2015

Planning for the introduction to service of the 100 new buses, which represented a significant increase in the scale of SLRTC’s operations, was inadequate. The SLRTC Board commenced planning for the introduction of the 100 new buses in November 2014, but their recommendations were not acted on

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SLRTC had not exercised adequate control over the banking of ticket sales revenue by sales agents operating at the central bus station in Freetown and in provincial locations. Plans for new ticket sales arrangements had not been developed when the new buses entered service.

SLRTC had not developed a realistic multi-year projection of income and expenditure for the operation of the 100 new buses. The six-month financial projection for July to December 2015 (included in the June 2015 Concept Paper) contains some errors and unrealistic assumptions. In particular, it did not show how the Corporation’s existing loan obligations will be serviced. [Popular Expression News]