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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Salone Police Swims in Corruption

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Salone Police Swims in Corruption

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Just over 40 percent (2435) of reports concerned the police, with 70 percent of these from citizens who had paid a bribe.  Five hundred and four reports were from people who refused to pay the requested bribe and 122 reports were to report honest officials.  Sixty-six percent of reports concerned traffic offences.  Reassuringly almost half of those asked to pay a bribe for a traffic offence (45 percent) refused to pay and almost six percent contacted PNB to report that they had met an honest traffic policeman.  The next highest category of reports (19 percent) related to bail, with 93% of reports coming through relating to requests for a bribe. 

Robust responses from the police include issuing zero tolerance administrative warnings, monitoring the situation closely for defaulting personnel; the rotation of Regional and Divisional Traffic Commanders in Bo district and Bombali districts; and plans for coordinated stakeholders’ meetings on PNB for the Sierra Leone Police Multi-Agency checkpoints. Force-wide sensitisation and staff rotation are also part of the strategy.

Most complaints about the health sector came from women, particularly young women. The health sector received 1512 reports.  Of these, 60% were from people who had paid a bribe, 28% refused to pay the bribe, and just over 12% say they met an honest official. Pregnancy and childbirth and Under Five Child Health continue to be the most problematic areas.

The Ministry of Health has responded by displaying the Service Charters in all Referral Hospitals and the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital has established a team of monitors to conduct a survey of patients. The ACC will follow up on the outcome of the survey.  The Integrity Management Committee (IMC) continues to visit health facilities to inform the workers about the PNB reports and possible actions that may be taken against them. Following reports from the general public, District Medical Officers are asked to conduct preliminary investigations and take administrative actions.  Discussions are ongoing about including an awareness raising campaign on the operations of the PNB.

In the education sector – most bribes related to grades and exams, and report cards.  Eight-four percent of people paid a bribe, six percent reported that they did not pay a bribe and less than one percent of reports were from people who had met an honest official. The Ministry of Education has yet to release information on their responses.

Reports about the electricity sector related mainly to bribes for new connections, reconnections and meter replacements, with 86 percent of reports coming from people who had paid a bribe. The Authority has set up a customer service hotline number – 672 – to enhance communication between customers and the Authority.

Similarly, reports about the water sector related mainly to new connections, illegal connections and reconnections, with 82 percent of people reporting that they had paid a bribe.  SALWACO has provided Identity cards to all its staff members to identify them from Water Directorate staff who are often engaged in water delivery services in some pilot districts. During staff meetings the Director General continues to stress the importance of integrity in dealings with the general public.  Guma Service Charters now on display at Guma offices to help customers distinguish between legitimate fees and bribes.

Reports made through the PNB platform come equally from women (49 percent) and men (51 percent).  These figures hide considerable differences within the sectors.  For example, most reports about the health service are made by women (85 percent).  Reports about the police are mainly made by men (77 percent).  Education reports come from young people of both sexes, and electricity and water attract reports from middle aged people and seniors.

Nabilahi Kamara, Director-National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) and Programme Manager-PNB, says: “The ACC would like to express its appreciation for all those who have made reports through the PNB platform.  The efficacy of PNB depends on the general public’s willingness to participate and the MDAs willingness to respond with strategies.  Public sector corruption affects all of us, but particularly the poorer and more vulnerable members of our society who can least afford it.  Let us kick it out.”

The PNB is a £4.7 million programme, funded by UK Aid and the Government of Sierra Leone, three-year project aimed at tackling bribery in Sierra Leone. It is citizens’ anonymous reporting platform which tracks the trends of corruption in Ministries, Departments and Agencies with the view of instituting remedial actions and measures which would improve and enhance service delivery across the country.

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