As part of its mandate to build partnership and coalition in the fight against corruption, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Regional Office in Kono has engaged the executive and a cross section of the general membership of the Bike Riders Union in Koidu, Kono District. The engagement took place on 22nd September, 2021, at the union’s office in Koidu.
The objective of the meeting was to educate and engage the membership on the general operations of the Commission, identify and discuss corruption opportunities, anti-corruption measures in their regular operations and to solicit their unflinching support in the fight against the scourge.
The Regional Manager of the ACC Hawanatu O. Kamara, in her statement, referred to commercial bike riders as key partners in development due to their operations, huge membership and daily interactions with both the private and public sectors. She said the engagement will provide a platform for establishing friendship and profound relationship with the union and also empower them to report instances of corruption to the ACC.
She however highlighted some complaints and concerns raised by the public and other union members, including the undue inflation of transport fares, recklessness of some of the members and the way executive members sometimes utilize union funds.
Giving a brief background for the establishment of the Commission, Mrs Kamara informed her audience that the ACC was formed in the year 2000 as a recommendation by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to fight corruption, which was one of the major causes of the decade-long civil war in the country. She therefore urged the riders to report every instance of corruption to the Commission for prompt action.
In his submission, Public Education Officer Sam P. Gogra stated that the fight against corruption under the present leadership of Francis Ben Kaifala Esq. has made enormous achievements in recovering over Thirty Billion Leones and other physical assets that have been presented to the Government. He further mentioned that corruption is no longer a profitable enterprise as perpetrators of the act will be subjected to the due process of the law without the slightest hesitation.
Explaining some of the offences committed under the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019 by public officers and those in the informal sector, he highlighted bribery, soliciting and accepting an advantage, misappropriation and embezzlement of public or donor funds, abuse of office and positions, among others. He therefore admonished the riders to renounce all forms of corruption as culprits of the act, upon conviction, will be liable to a fine of not less than Fifty Million Leones or five years imprisonment or both fine and imprisonment.
Public Education Officer, Hawa Deen Conteh, described bike riders as mostly hardworking and dynamic young people, attributes that qualify them as valuable assets in the fight against corruption. “The Commission heavily relies on you to resist, reject and report all forms of graft to the Commission through the toll free lines of 077985985/077986986/515,” she said.
Mohamed Koroma, District Chairman of the Union, applauded the ACC for the sensitization drive referring to the engagement as “very important and educative’’. He added that his members are playing significant roles in the transport sector by transporting people, goods and services across the district. “Our members are always present in the remotest and hard-to-reach communities in the district to ensure that the basic necessities of life reach the poor and vulnerable,’’ he said. He assured the visiting ACC team of their unwavering support in the fight against corruption.
A question-and-answer session and the distribution of IEC materials to the riders formed part of the interactive engagement.