The Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) has spent huge sums of money on the management of its vehicles, and between 2014 and 2017, it spent Le515 billion on acquisition, registration and maintenance of its vehicles. This is according to a Press Release issued by Martin Sandy, Information, Education and Communications Officer at the Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL), indicating further that this does not include vehicles procured directly by Ministries Department and Agencies (MDAs).
Despite this amount spent by government, MDAs are still in need of vehicles to run their day-to-day operations. “There have also been reported cases of mismanagement and disorderly handling of government vehicles ranging from looting to abandonment in garages and other un-ideal places around the country” the release read. It is against this background and the Auditor-General’s mandate, as enshrined in Section 119 (2) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, that the ASSL Sierra Leone carried out a performance audit on the management of government vehicles, to assess whether government vehicles were effectively managed by the MTA and the SLRSA between 2014 and 2017.
The management of government vehicles involves the processes of acquisition, registration, maintenance and disposal. The Ministry of Transport and Aviation (MTA) oversees the formulation of policies and ensures that those policies are adhered to. The Sierra Leone Roads Safety Authority (SLRSA) is an autonomous body of the MTA and has the responsibility to regulate and coordinate all vehicle related issues within Sierra Leone.
Government vehicles play a pivotal role in the achievement of MDAs strategic targets and goals. They help in the movement of employees and equipment in facilitating the attainment of strategic goals. According to the Report, from 2014 to 2017, government has procured 968 vehicles (including 100 buses) at a total contract cost of Le512,779,202,516.61 (equivalent of $96,253,297), in addition to the 40 buses that were acquired in 2012 for public transportation at a total cost of US$2,000,0003.
This does not include vehicles procured by MDAs themselves and vehicles donated to the GoSL by international institutions such as the Department for International Development (DfID), the World Bank (WB), and the European Union (EU). The GoSL has also spent a total of Le2,106,360,225 on the registration and maintenance of government vehicles for the same period. Auditor General Lara Taylor Pearce wrote in her report that despite government’s efforts to improve the management of vehicles, challenges of mismanagement and disorderly handling of vehicles still exist.
“Typical examples of these anomalies include the frantic looting of government vehicles by outgoing officials, the pricing/procurement of vehicles in excess of current market prices, and the abandonment of several government vehicles in various locations around the country including office premises, garages and open fields. For instance, Youyi Building which accommodates a good number of MDAs has been the dumping ground for abandoned/malfunctioning government vehicles” she wrote.
By Zainab Iyamide Joaque