The Sierra Leone Web





As your Commander-in-Chief, it is with great pleasure that I am here to attend this year's Myohaung Day celebrations, where we remember the sacrifice and bravery of Sierra Leoneans who served with the Royal West African Frontier Force during the Second World War. On this anniversary of the gallantry shown at Myohaung in 1944, I join you too in remembering the sacrifice of our soldiers, policemen, ECOMOG, the CDF, UNAMSIL, IMATT and members of other security agencies, who have throughout our history, fought and worked to maintain and preserve public freedom, democracy and national sovereignty.

I believe it is particularly relevant for us to remember the contribution of our forefathers at a time when after so many years of turmoil, the people of our nation are now in a position to enjoy the fruits of peace. Of course, such a peace does not come without responsibility, and it is you in the RSLAF, together with those of the Police, Prison Service and other security agencies that the main burden of this responsibility must fall.

You will no doubt be aware of the recent incidents involving persons who seem to be bent on returning the Nation to the horrors of the past, and who seek to undo the efforts and sacrifices of those we now remember. It is only right therefore, that on this auspicious occasion I am able to recognize the contribution made by members of the Police, RSLAF, UNAMSIL, IMATT and the other security services whose efforts over the past days and months have continued to ensure that such evil men remain unable to disrupt our hard-won peace. Your country owes you a debt as profound as that which we owe the soldiers of yester years who served with such distinction at Myohaung.

It is in recognition of your responsibility to the Nation for the preservation of our borders and the peace and security of our people that so much has been invested in your development. The re-equipment progamme that has recently been completed sees the RSLAF with a standard of weapons, uniform, vehicles and equipment that is far more capable than that which we have recently known. These, together with huge improvements in administration and training, have ensured that the RSLAF is more highly respected, more capable, better paid and administered than in recent memory.

Your deployment during last year to secure the borders and territorial waters of our country at a time of increasing regional uncertainty is a testament, not only to the improved professional capability of the RSLAF, but also the pride, commitment and willingness shown by our soldiers and families in accepting the responsibility placed upon you by the people of this Nation. As your Commander-in-Chief, I salute you and thank you for your considerable efforts thus far. I only ask that you continue to display the qualities of service and leadership that our people and I are coming to expect from you.

While I know of the considerable improvements that have been made in recent months, I am fully aware of the huge amount of work that still remains. I am particularly concerned about the appalling state of our infrastructure, including barracks, and the resulting living conditions under which many of you are required to live and work. While Sierra Leone remains a country with huge financial constraints, I will be taking a personal interest in your welfare as Commander-in-Chief to ensure that whatever can be done is done with the resources that are available. Many of you will be aware of the programme that has been introduced by the Ministry of Defence, aimed at building and improving your living and working conditions.

This programme, which has been initiated at the highest level, is known as OPERATION PEBU. OPERATION PEBU has my fullest support, as do similar measures that are planned within the Police and other security services. I am therefore happy to report to you that substantial work has already started. As an example, engineers are already working to refurbish Teko Barracks in Makeni, Moa Barracks in Daru, and Wilberforce and Juba Barracks in Freetown.

I am also happy to note that a new ward in the Military Hospital has been recently opened and work started on a new Maternity facility. The first new Married Quarters for fifteen years have been completed and handed over at Juba in the past few days. Our engineers will also begin work next week in Kailahun on a brand new site, with further areas identified for future development across the country. As such work continues, I believe the resulting improvement in stability and infrastructure will allow the RSLAF to develop further, growing to its full potential while allowing substantial enhancement in family living and working conditions.

I know that the Ministry of Defence is working closely with other Ministries and Government agencies to provide the much-needed resources that will be required by OPERATIONS PEBU. They, and I, are fully aware of the importance of this initiative to our soldiers and their families, and therefore the Nation.

Comparable improvements have also taken place in the Sierra Leone Police Force. Police Officers in the various ranks have received high quality training both locally and internationally. Renovation work have been carried out at the Police Training School at Hastings, the Kissy Police Barracks and the Makeni Barracks.

Police stations have also been renovated or new ones built countrywide, including Calaba Town, Tombo, Tankoro, Moyamba, Masiaka, Gbalamuya, Mongere, Mattru Jong, Kabala and Bumbuna. This has facilitated the re-establishment of police presence and the enhancement of law and order in all the Districts in the country. We have also provided modern communications systems for the Police Force as well as vehicles, motor-cycles and other transport facilities for every division within the Force. Significantly, the new Marine Unit in the Sierra Leone Police has been provided with patrol boats, thus enabling them to patrol our inshore waters. All personnel of the Sierra Leone Police are now supplied with uniforms.

As I have remarked in the case of the RSLAF, improvements in the living and other conditions of service of the Sierra Leone Police will continue to be pursued by my Government until every member of the Force takes home a decent enough salary and provided with good working and other conditions necessary for the attainment of the highest standard of their operational effectiveness.

To this end, programmes are being implemented or developed to address some of the key issues central to the welfare of police personnel and their families, as well as the Prisons Service and other security agencies.

It is matter of common knowledge that when I assumed office as President in 1996, the security situation in the country was extremely precarious. The war was raging relentlessly with disastrous consequences to the entire country. I was determined to fulfill my election pledge of ending that sens

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