By Prince C. Kamara
Stakeholders in the timber industry of Sierra Leone have met to discuss the way forward in the timber business which according to them generates huge revenue for the country. Issues bordering on financial transparency, medical care and salary increment among other issues were discussed.
Delivering his keynote address to a jam-packed (White House) hall at Bai Bureh Road, Member of Parliament Hon. Ibrahim Tawa Conteh of constituency 132 who doubles as Chairman Committee on the Environment in Parliament spoke about the need for the new executive of the Timber Association Sierra Leone (TASL) headed by Alhaji Bah not to make the mistakes of his predecessors but to leant from them in order to make his own tenure different and more beneficial to the members and the country as a whole.
He called on the TASL executive to take the issue of financial transparency very important, adding that institutions, associations and other groups fall apart due to unclear financial transactions and impropriety in revenue collection which should be of benefit to the general membership. He stressed that the issue of proper medical assistance for laborers in the industry is also very important. He advised the Alhaji Bah executive and membership to consider replanting trees as very vital to the survival of the TASL because their livelihood depends on timber.
He cautioned the members to be united and to speak with one voice in everything and not to wash their dirty linens in public but to resolve differences and misunderstandings in a mature way through reconciliation and compromise.
Making a statement earlier, the newly-appointed President of Timber Association Sierra Leone, Alhaji Bah informed his members that his administration would be different from those before it, adding that he hopes to work with all and sundry to ensure that felled trees are hurriedly replaced in multiples so as to maintain ecological balance, while ensuring that they work hand-in-glove with the government. He reminded his audience that since he assumed the office of TASL President, he has made efforts to contact other parties like the Chinese and our Guinean neighbors who are also actively involved in the timber industry of Sierra Leone. He mentioned that the executive would do all in its power to sign veritable memorandum of understandings with relevant partners which would ensure maximum improvement of TASL and benefit to its members and the country as a whole.
The Sierra Leone timber industry in recent years was chaotic and revenue accrued from this lucrative trade could not properly be accounted for. However, with the government appointing a sole agent to export timber in Sierra Leone, in the person of Babadi Kamara, there are signs that the timber industry is set for growth with an initial payment of over 37 million US Dollars into the consolidated revenue fund.
According to Alhaji Bah, TASL will soon embark on a nationwide tour to the regions where actual felling is done to not only assess the rate of felling but to also learn from the region executives the challenges they are facing so as to discuss the way forward for the general good.