113) Having conducted an inquiry into the Fire Force, one gets an impression that apart from the various irregularities and malpractices unearthed and the shocking high degree of illiteracy amongst its staff, this Force is like an unwanted child being tossed here and there. We see that at one time the Fire Force was attached to the Freetown City Council. Then it was removed from the City Council and put in care of the Police Force, and finally it was transferred from the Police to the Ministry of Defence. During the progress of this inquiry it is learnt that the Fire Force had been transferred to the Freetown City Council. This transfer, the Commission is told has met with some resistance. The Commission shall make appropriate recommendation on this point of the unwanted child later on in this Report.
114) As regards the question of vehicles purchased for and on behalf of the Force, the evidence adduced had exposed the corrupt systems encouraged by the pre-April 29 Government, whereby "Party Supporters" are given large sums of money to fulfil bogus deals, with the sole aim of pocketing majority of the quantum of money meant for the contract. Various contracts were given to Mr Mahmoud Khadi for the purchase of fire engines to be used by the Fire Force. Over ten in number running into millions of leones. On one occasion the Chief Fire Officer, Mr Alusine Kamara was given a sort of holiday trip abroad with per diem to inspect engines which the contractor knew very well he was not going to supply. At the end of the day old and outdated machines almost 10 years or more were supplied. It is seen that the life span for each of these vehicles when put into use in Sierra Leone was not more than 2 years.
115) First and foremost why should this supplier repeatedly be given the contract to purchase Fire Engines for the Fire Force when (he) is not an expert in that field? A glaring ignorance and fault is indicated by the purchase of German machines to operate from English-fitted hydrants in the country. Strictly speaking, under the laws of contract, when the Chief Fire Officers received engines other than the ones he inspected abroad, that signifies a breach of contract for which damages are liable to be paid by the supplier. If there was sanity and honesty in the system of the then government, the supplier should have been asked to refund the contract money with interest. However it is understood that it is usually the case whereby the contractor/supplier and the individual members of government get their slice of state funds.
116) As already mentioned, the Commission was shocked with the high degree of illiteracy that prevails in the Fire Force. It would appear that there was a deliberate move by the officers responsible to minimise aspirants for top jobs in the Force, and in particular the ultimate seat - that of the Chief Fire Officer.
117) From the evidence already adduced, this Force is another institution run by the iron hand of one man - the Chief Fire Officer in the person of Mr Alusine Kamara. A careful restructuring of this Force should see more sanity and equity in its administration and well-being of all its staff outside the clutches of one man.
118) Again the order for a generator for the Force Headquarters. Over Le3.9 million was paid for this order from Shelal Trading Company. There is evidence that the wrong generator was supplied and this was returned. It is not clear whether the correct generator was sent to replace the wrong one, but there is evidence that the military confiscated a generator in possession of an employee of the supplier. An appropriate recommendation would be made in this connection.
119) Communication/Receiver sets should have been supplied by the same Shelal Trading Company for the sum of Le7,420,000.00. From the evidence before the Commission, there are doubts as to whether these sets were ever supplied or not. Recommendations will be made later on this matter.
120) There is great disparity between what Mr Alusine Kamara said he received from Government for Uniforms - Le29 million and what the Commission was informed the |Force received - Le93 million. However even if it was the lower figure of Le29 million, there is clear evidence that many of the staff did not receive complete sets of uniforms. We note that this contract to supply uniforms was given to a friend of the Chief Fire Officer. His name is My Foday Sayenu.
121) The supply of shoes to Force members leaves the unaccountability of 28 pairs, between Mr Browne the distributor of Forces shoes and the Chief Fire Officer - Mr Alusine Kamara. The Commission is of the view that Mr Alusine Kamar should be made to account for the 28 pairs of shoes.
122) The distribution of rice in the Force is most wickedly done. Where the head of the Force collects 54 bags of rice per month at Le170.00 per bag, recruits are not entitled to any rice not that they do not eat rice, but because they have not reached that position to be supplied rice at the subsidised rate. We do not lend our support to this practice.
123) Still with this rice issue, it was unearthed that the most popular form of punishment for defaulters in their duties, is the forfeiture of monthly supply of rice. The punishment is determined by the Chief Fire Officer, but no one could account who benefits from these forfeited rice. Again we observe that the girl friend of the Chief Fire Officer receives at least 7 bags of rice from Force rice monthly. We remind ourselves that recruits are not entitled to rice while girl friends are.
124) The question of the trailer pumps must be looked into again. Though Mr Kamara has told the Commission that one pump was at Binkolo and the other at the then President's Lodge in Freetown for his swimming pool, the Commission has its doubts. As this matter was reported to the CID, confirmation could be sought in that quarter. A thorough audit would determine the issue.
125) Ghost workers are rumoured in the Fire Force. Various members of staff had heard of this rumour. No one had categorically denied the existence of such a rumour. The number of staff in the Force had not been clearly determined. Some say there are 286, others say there are 515. This is a possible way of exposing the ghost workers through the salary payroll.
126) Who is the paymaster at the Fire Force? Some say Aruna Kamara is the son of the Chief Fire Officer - Alusine Kamara. This allegation remains unclear; but if there is some connection between the two, could this be a lead to the unconfirmed ghost workers aided by the paymaster? The issue ought to be ascertained and discouraged.
127) It is hoped that the Provident Fund opened at the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank for staff would continue without a hitch. Checks must be made periodically to determine how healthy the fund is.