The Ministry of Labour in collaboration with the Immigration Department over the weekend issued work and residential permits to foreign nationals in the country at the New England Ville in Freetown.
The government of Sierra Leone has approved a legal working permit for all foreign nationals. Speaking on behalf of the Labour ministry, the work permit co-coordinator said the Labour and the Social Security Ministries would be working hand in hand with the Immigration Department, in order to fast track the process.
Mr.E.K.Lansana said the move to issue permit to foreigners was authorized by the Government of Sierra Leone and that the law of the country has made it categorically clear, to issue both residential and work permit respectively.
He pointed out certain conditionalities which he believes should be fulfilled by all foreigners. He said a foreigner must have a valid passport adding that a competent Sierra Leonean must not be forsaken for a foreign employee and the grating of permit should not adversely affect the wages of workers. “To bring foreign workers without the consent of the Ministry is punishable by law, he warned.”
In his official statement, the Chief Immigration Officer said the issuance of permit used to be the duty of the Immigration Department. Mr.Kholifa .A. Koroma said it is a good idea for his department to work with the Labour ministry so as to ease the burden on his department.
He however, emphasized that workable methodology must be put in place in order to avoid complications in the future .Mr. Koroma reiterated that clear distinction in dealing with various nationals must be spelt out, since such nationals might be coming from different countries.
The Chief Immigration Officer Mr.Kholifa .A. Koroma while addressing Committee members said they are planning to review some of the contract agreement with some of the Chinese companies operating in the country.
He further disclosed that there have been persistent complaints regarding Gouje Company over the hiring and firing of workers and expressed the need to investigate the matter as it is mandatory for all foreign nationals to obey the rules.
The Permanent Secretary for the ministry Mr. A.T.M .Navo commended members of the Work Committee, adding that the time has come for average Sierra Leonean to understand the purpose of a work permit and the reason why government needs to issue it to the needy people. So far six Lebanese nationals have already been issued work permits.
Our reporters also observed that most of the foreign nationals in the country were not present and that one of the foreign nationals working at the Pro Credit Bank walked off- the Labour Ministry due to delay in addressing him.
Labour Ministry Staff and the Work Permit Committee Members were disappointed in the foreign nationals whom they said do not have respect for labour officials and are in the constant habit of molesting ordinary Sierra Leoneans.
By Saidu Bah & Jon –Bu