Working on its mandate of raising awareness on the evils of corruption, the benefits of having a corrupt free country and enlisting public support on same, Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) North West Regional Public Education and External Outreach Team has on Thursday 14th April, 2022 stormed the Falaba Road Market in Port Loko. The engagement was part of its usual customized meetings with the informal sector, to educate traders, onlookers and passers-by to remain corrupt free in their daily marketing / trading transactions.
Similar engagements with traders have been held at Kondoto Market on Wharf Road, Port Loko City and Roktorlon Luma spot (Trade Fair) in Dibia Chiefdom, Karene District in Sierra Leone.
Constantly engaging the informal sector in the North West Region, like it was done with the Port Loko City Bike Riders Union on Tuesday 12th April, 2022, has to do with several worrying considerations ranging from: accurate and / or proper dress gears of riders; authentic bike, Kekeh, Motor registration with licenses and taxes; thieving / robbery among some miscreant bike, kekeh, motor riders / drivers; aiding and abetting the movement / transportation of contraband goods / items, profiteering, selling expired goods and condiments, deceiving customers etc is integral in the National Anti-Corruption Commission Strategy.
Regarding the engagement with Falaba Road Market Traders, which is very crucial to the livelihood of community people, and the socio economic development of the nation, the public education team pointed out their roles and responsibilities as decent citizens in marketing / trading goods and services on a daily bases with integrity.
Addressing market women, traders, buyers, onlookers and passers-by, ACC Public Education Officer, Mohammed Thullah underscored the significance of market women and traders in society by first stressing their strategic and significant roles of the sustenance and livelihood of community people in Port Loko. Being that almost everybody depend on the produces and other items sold in the market place, Mr. Thullah stated the necessity to sensitize them on corruption and corruption related issues. He noted that the buying and selling of food and non-food items from producers, farmers and retail or wholesale business tycoons could be done without any involvement of trickery, deceit of profiteering and other forms of racketeering in business marketing. Referencing policies of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Standard Bureau, City Council and the National Revenue Authority (NRA), the ACC Public Education Officer sternly warned Falaba Road market traders, customers, onlookers and passers-by to beware of regulations relating to decency and correctness in buying and selling of goods and services within Port Loko. Mr. Thullah emphasized that traders / marketers who are in the habit of mixing or adulterating food condiments like palm oil, pepper, ogeri, gbala, tola, drinks, flour etc. have the tendencies of afflicting sickness / diseases and even wrecking death on a host of consumers within and around Port Loko due to bad business habits. As such, he advised them to desist from such clandestine and devious practices which will culminate to corrupt practices.
Mohammed Thullah pointed out certain wrong doings in the local court system ranging from exorbitant summon fees: administering illegal high court fines without issuing appropriate receipts; illegal detention, threats which leads to some alleged culprits to run away from certain communities; practices like booking - fees; collecting monies for licenses and other forms of bribery at checkpoints by the police; paying money to bail a relation or loved one as a surety; payment for malaria test and its treatment in government medical facilities; receiving money in respect of treatments administered to children under five years, pregnant women, Ebola Survivors, disables etc when the Free Health Care is still operational; do amount to corruption and can only be stopped when Port Loko people and those elsewhere resolve to stand against corruption and corrupt practices by sharing cogent intelligence and reporting same to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
He also pointed out that some market women / traders, onlookers and passers-sby do sometimes collude with other mischievous members of the public to commit corruption offence or aid and abet in committing same.
Mr. Unisa Conteh stepped in the stead of the Chairman of Traders Union at Falaba Market and expressed appreciation to the ACC for such an eye opening engagement at a time when Port Loko City is being sieged and plagued by most of the admonishments given by the Commission in Port Loko. He encouraged colleague marketers who are fond of certain dubious acts mentioned by the ACC to desist from same as they carry out their daily activities. He assured the ACC of their resolve to abide by the counsel and pledged their support to the Commission in fighting graft.
On behalf of his membership, he called on the government of Sierra Leone and other related authorities like the Port Loko District and City Councils, Standard Bureau and the National Revenue Authority to continue playing their dutiful functions as they (traders) will comply accordingly. Which he Mr. Unisa Conteh noted was to better the lives of indigenes and dwellers of Port Loko.
Earlier in his explanation of the purpose of the meeting, Senior Public Education Officer Samuel Junisa Sankoh who also served as chairman of the meeting sensitized both traders, buyers, onlookers and passers-by on the three pronged approaches of public education, prevention and prosecution used by the Anti-Corruption Commission to fight corruption in Sierra Leone.
He informed them that the Commission has made several actions and interventions in the form of raids and sting operations as a result of the numerous complaints and concerns got from the general public on the prevalence of corrupt practices at various market places, shops, malls, restaurants and entertainment spots. As he encouraged them to be law abiding in trading, he highlighted various methods of reporting corrupt practices to the ACC.
The ACC - Falaba Road customized meeting was climaxed by an interactive question and answer session, as well as presentation of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials.