In its drive to help address opportunities and challenges in Sierra Leone's fishing sector, the World Bank Country Manager, Vijay Pillai, Monday handed over seven new pick-up vans to the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr. Soccoh Kabia, at his Youyi Building office, as part of the implementation process of the West Africa Regional Fisheries Programme WARFP project.
After highlighting some of the ongoing efforts by the Bank to support the WARFP project, Mr. Pillai described the donation of the vehicles as "a token for the journey the project would take." He added: "We are pleased to be supporting the ministry. We are particularly pleased with the leadership of the minister in the last one year."
While the Coordinator of the WARFP project in Sierra Leone, Dr. Salieu Sankoh, stressed that the vehicles were donated as part of the World Bank's support for Sierra Leone's successful management of the fisheries sector particularly in the achievement of the project's first component which is governance by ensuring community participation, Dr. Kabia responded by saying that the seven vehicles will have a great impact on the ministry's process of transformation which it had embarked upon to achieve capacity development.
"We have the resources here. The only reason we don't enjoy much is that we don't manage well. However, we've started seeing changes...This is really the kicking start of the reforms that will be taking place in a month or so," Dr. Kabia said. He added that with new measures in place, his ministry was able to generate Le13.7 billion last year for the first time in its history. And with more outlined reforms to come, including the attainment of importation certification with support from a Holland-based company, the minister said Sierra Leone will soon be a major exporter of fishery products to Europe and other parts of the world and its strive to achieve its three key objectives which are to raise revenue, ensure food security and create employment would be crowned.
According to Dr. Sankoh, who later disclosed that the World Bank has earlier in the day approved a no objection for the WARFP project's plan to rehabilitate marine protected Areas MPAs outstations, the new vehicles will help ease mobility between the head office and the various communities to achieve more positive results in the co-management structure comprising of the project officials and local councils, paramount chiefs, fishermen unions and other local monitors. He added that it would also make the presence of the fisheries ministry to be better felt across the coast for MPAs outstations to be more effective.
Governance Focal Person at the ministry, Sheku Sei, said this is the first time the ministry will be going in line with "what we've been seeing in other parts of the world when we go out to attend programmes."
He thanked the World Bank for ensuring that the WARFP project is being implemented to the fullest.