NotBBCPapers: Motorcycle madness and ‘not all Lebanese are bad’

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Terrorism steals as many headlines in Sierra Leone as it does in the West. The Global Times notes the number of Lebanese nationals on the US security services’ latest list of “blocked persons” but reminds readers that it foes not mean that all folk from Lebanon are terrorists. Freetown has a large and wealthy Lebanese expat population.

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The Independent Observer also reports that Salone-based individuals are on the US list. However, it gives greater prominence to former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho being linked with a job managing Indonesia’s footballers.

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An audit of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security raises concerns for the Standard Times. It reports some 34 vehicles and 78 motorbikes were unaccounted for after the financial records check.

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Motorbikes also feature on the front page of Awoko. The paper says Okada taxi-bikes have been banned from the financial centre of the capital Freetown. It leads on consultation over the repeal of criminal libel laws.

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And the Awareness Times carries the latest on the process of de-amalgamating  rural chiefdoms that were merged during the colonial eta.

The identification of several Lebanese nationals – some based in Sierra Leone – as suspected of terrorism-related activities makes headlines. 

Mindful of the large expat poulation, the Independent Observer lists those declared by the US as “Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons”.

Several of those linked with the Islamic political and military movement Hezbollah have connections to Sierra Leone, the paper notes.

The Global Times, meanwhile, is at pains to point out that: “Not all Lebanese are terrorist sympathisers.”

In a comment, it says social media “is awash with unsavoury comment” about Salone’s Lebanese community. But it argues: “It has to be emphasised that not all Lebanese nationals in Sierra Leone are bad.

“We still have some good Lebanese people… some of them do not even speak Arabic or even carry Lebanese passports. In fact, some of them have not even visited Lebanon since they were born.”

Columnist Sorbie Fofana adds that he went to school with “some of these rich guys”,  that “they do love this country” and would do anything to protect the state.


Eye-catching headlines

  • “Kao Denero warning to lads” – Awoko sums up the Sierra Leonean rap artist’s fears about the consumption of energy drinks. “Sum man dae drink am lek na water,” he laments
  • “Advantage nor good!!!!!!!!!!” – government statistics showing a growth in the female population by 130,000 cause consternation for the Independent Observer. “Why is the government allowing women from the DIASPORA to go back and MARRY men and add to the MISERY?” it wonders
  • “Casillas is Porto’s worst goalkeeper in 15 years” – the Standard Times sticks the boot in to former Real Madrid captain and Spanish World Cup winner Iker Casillas via its lead sports story
  • “Sierra Leone @55 Independence Anniversary – a post mortem” – Winstanley R Bankole-Johnson’s column in the Global Times fails to find much life in the country’s Independence Day celebrations

Water fiasco

“If water is life, Sierra Leone is dead and buried,” declares the Independent Observer above its masthead – a section of the front page dedicated to a weekly sexist joke and a proverb.

Inside, it sums up the frequent interruptions in Freetown’s water supply by saying “even the squirrels are suffering”, alongside a picture of a brush-tailed rodent clinging to a garden tap.

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Meanwhile, it’s problems in the electricity supply bothering the Global Times. It quotes Energy Minister Henry Macauley apologising for “consistent power outages in Freetown and its environs”.

“The minister said that due to the growing appetite for the demand for light and the reduction of the water level at the Bumbuna [hydro-electric] Dam, the ministry no faces a major challenge,” the paper says.

However, it quotes Mr Macauley criticising the number of people making “illegal connections” to the grid.


Motorcycle madness 

The ongoing row between the government and bikers who ride the Okada motorcycle taxis used by many Freetown commuters continues to make headlines.

Internal Affairs Minister Palo Conteh has banned all riders from the Central Business District (CBD) “to restore sanity throughout the Freetown Municipality”, according to Awoko.

The paper says Okada riders it spoke to were “not pleased” with the ban, which comes into force on Monday.

However, it quotes them saying they’ll obey the law and press union leaders to continue negotiations “because most of their passengers are the ones coming into the CBD area”.

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Okadas serve a variety of purposes for Freetowners

The Standard Times, meanwhile, quotes Bike Riders Executive President David Sesay complaining about “deplorable roads”, erection of “invisible road signs” at no go areas by transport authorities and ministerial indifference to their cause.

Political and Public Affairs Deputy Minister Femi Mansaray argued that riders frequently contravene their code of conduct, the paper says. The ministry recently had to intervene when riders descended on State House Avenue in protest, it adds.

Another ministry with motorcycle-related headaches is Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, according to the Standard Times. The paper says 78 bikes – along with 34 other vehicles – were unaccounted for after an audit of the department’s finances.

“Whether the said vehicles are in the hands of ministry officials or are being auctioned to milk (sic) the pockets of individuals thereby depriving the government of enough equipment to serve the masses is something that is worth investigating,” the paper declares.

 

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