The Ministry of Internal Affairs, Local government and Rural Development and the Institutional Reform and Capacity Building Project (IRCBP) have temporarily handed over newly built offices to three local councils. The office buildings for these three councils are the first to be completed in a batch of eight which constitute the second set of interventions through which the Decentralization Secretariat of the IRCBP is providing local councils with office buildings.
The Secretariat is doing this as part of its capacity building drive. With the re-introduction of the local government system in 2004, a needs assessment survey was carried out which resulted in the decision to build or rehabilitate office complexes for local councils throughout the country. At the handing over ceremony in Port Loko on Thursday 19th February, a Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Local Government and Rural development, Raymond Kabia said that local governance remains the priority concern of government, while the need for improvement of governance at chiefdom level is also fully recognized by government. Pointing to the fact that the office complex in Port Loko was built by a Construction Firm headed by a woman, the Minister emphasized the point that the role of women should not be underplayed. He also called for the complex to be properly maintained, noting that the decentralization programme holds the key to this country’s development. The office complexes in Bo and Kenema Cities were handed over to the councils by Deputy Minister Hadiru Kalokoh. He was happy to note that progress towards effective local governance remains on course, and pointed out that this was against the thinking of skeptics at the initial stages of the decentralization programme.During the visit to the three councils, facilities in the newly built complexes were tested to make sure they were in good working order, and the keys were then handed over to council authorities. audiences that the Secretariat would pursue every means to meet the needs of councils.
He said that it remains the goal of the Secretariat to uplift the status of local councils in Sierra Leone to international standards.
Responding to concerns raised earlier, Alhassan Kanu informed local councils that they were at liberty to access funds from various sources to further develop the premises of the new office buildings and for other purposes.
He promised that his office would support such requests for funds, and advised that funds from the Local Government Development Grant could be used to construct fences to secure councils offices where necessary.
The Minister of Internal Affairs Local Government and Rural Development, Dauda Kamara is expected to perform the ceremonies for the formal and permanent handing over of the complexes to the councils at a later date.