“Honour the men and women of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), Sierra Leone Police, Prisons and Fire Force and all men and women in uniforms.” His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio urged Sierra Leoneans at the 14th Armed Forces Day Celebration.
He said the army gave him his identity; “I am who I am because of this army. This army sharpened my core values of public service, discipline, and loyalty. Its enviable tradition of strict regimentation and esprit de corps molded me nearly forty years ago. Like all of us who served then and serve now, this army taught us that there is no greater service than to serve our country through war and peace”.
President Bio said: “It is in recognition of that obligation that I have, through my first term as President and Commander-in-Chief, worked diligently to strengthen and modernise the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) through both hard initiatives, including infrastructure and equipment, and soft initiatives, including welfare, training, and morale.”
The president also noted, with humility, that those efforts were unprecedented but not unexpected, adding that in his 2018 manifesto, he promised the RSLAF that he would work diligently to transform it into a professional, well-equipped and highly capable force with motivated men and women who could carry out their constitutional mandate when required.
“No head of state has paid so much attention to and done so much for the RSLAF in so short a time.” I must, at this juncture, commend and appreciate the government and people of the People’s Republic of China for unconditionally supporting my government’s vision for transforming the RSLAF. Other global and sub-regional partners have also fully supported our bid to modernise and restructure our RSLAF. Beyond the single-day celebration, I urge the general public to celebrate the great service of our men and women in uniform and to say “thank you” in their little ways whenever they interact with them. Courtesy preferences could also be accorded to service personnel for any services involving queuing.”
President Bio mentioned, among other things, that from the site of the old Myohaung Officer’s Mess, his government had constructed a modern, state-of-the-art Officer’s Mess, and just that was the towering edifice of 104-bedroom accommodation for single officers at Wilberforce Barracks.
He also cited the ultra-modern Warrant Officers’ and Sergeant Messes at Wilberforce and Spur Loop, the six additional accommodation blocks for Junior Officers, as well as the construction of a military guest house, the Boom Defence, at Kingtom.
“Still on the issue of construction, my government has completed the Gondama Barracks Accommodation Project and also finished the construction of modern accommodation for a minimum of about 360 personnel at six forward patrol bases at Yumkella, Yenga, Sulima, Sinkunia, Sanya, and Bomaru. There have been additional construction projects undertaken by my government right across the force,” he said.
President Julius Maada Bio used the occasion to thank the First Lady, Dr. Fatima Maada Bio, on behalf of the RSLAF, their families, and the community for her great humanitarian work that had touched and transformed so many lives, especially those of girls, throughout the nation.
“Permit me to express my appreciation for her perseverance in the face of adversity, as well as her unwavering commitment to providing modern medical services to military personnel at the 34 Military Hospital. She has championed the upgrading and expansion of the 34 Military Hospital. I am informed that construction work is either complete or nearly complete. A modern administrative block; a total of 500-bed spaces exclusively for paediatric cases, for males and females; a fully equipped Defense Nursing School for training healthcare personnel that offers diploma-level nursing courses; a Center of Excellence for supporting survivors of gender violence; and a fully-equipped modern diagnostic center with a digital X-ray machine and CT scanner will be commissioned soon at the 34 Military Hospital. My government has also paved a 2.1-kilometer road around the 34 Military Hospital with asphalt,” he noted.