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Sierra Leone News: Is SLRSA Part of the Problem?

road-safetyWe are told that although Africa has only 2% of all the vehicles in the world but contributes some 80% of all the accidents in the world. Interestingly Sierra Leones accident rates are quite high. Although the Body in charge of road traffic has changed its name from Sierra Leone Road transport Authority (SLRTA) to Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA), we are yet to have our roads any safer. SLRSA and the police need to make our transports safer by not causing overloading through registering vehicles to carry more passengers than required.
As the economic meltdown bites deeper and deeper we see teaming numbers of commuters’ trekking the length and breadth of Freetown like in the days of the Revo. The traffic situation in Freetown is so nightmarish that one spends some two to three hours in traffic suffering from the hot sweat aromas from their compatriots’ shuffling for space in a poda-poda or taxi.
We live in a very unjust and controversially mad world of same sex marriages; you cannot really say it will never happen, you can only safely say you have not yet seen it happen. Former President Jammeh once said that The Gambia will never have Lesbians and homosexuals. He said if they catch any Lesbian, they will send them straight to the male section of the prisons. If we catch any Homosexual, we will send him straight to the female section of the prisons.
In this our land that we love, because many of us have short memories and do not document what people say, any bunkum can just go over the radio and howl any gibberish. That is what the Creole says… Word nar mot nor to load nar ade. Too bad that a lot of our compatriots go by this, especially our politicians and their cronies. The issue of right hand drive vehicles is a clear case of hypocritical pronouncements. It started with the right honourable police spokesman who went on air and told us that come October 2012, no right hand vehicle will be allowed to ply the streets of this country. Well that October the National Elections were just a month away and thus many people knew that our police guy was making a big joke. The date was later shame-facedly shifted to January this year. That time round it was the staff of the SLRSA who was on radio saying come September 1 that year no right hand drive vehicle will be imported into this country and come September 2014 no right hand vehicle will be allowed in this country. Well they are still plying our streets!
I see all this as mere hot air bullshit! Question number 1: where did the right hand drive vehicles pass, did they drop from the sky or did they pass through the quay? Sometimes when some unintelligently warped grey mattered authorities go on air, they actually abuse our sense of intelligence. Most of them really do what the popular artiste Innocent says in one of his new songs: You day up tick, you dae alla tiff?  Simple, if you are really serious about catching a thief, you do not go up the tree first and then shout from there for people to catch the thief.
We have witnessed blatant lies over issues that hinge on people’s rights and livelihoods. With all the god given riches we have our compatriots in governance authority systematically rape the poor as if they have no right to be here. I keep on saying that nobody decided to be born here in Sierra Leone. Also if a set of people decide to enter politics and take leadership positions, they are there to serve us especially as they live on tax payer’s sweat. They are doing a job for which they are well paid and they are not doing us any favour. May I remind us all that in Chapter II of our Constitution which deals with the Fundamental Principles of State Policy in Section 5, sub-Section 2 (a) says  sovereignty belongs to the people of Sierra Leone from whom the government through the Constitution derives all its powers, authority and legitimacy. If we believe in the spirit of this, then we need to rethink our approach to the power of the executive. On March 1, 1971 this country changed from the left hand traffic to the right hand traffic. That meant that right hand vehicles gradually phased out. At that time only brand new vehicles were ordered or bought, not like now where everything is second or even third hand if you like.
Recently there was an announcement that all commercial vehicles with metal seats should change them to reduce passenger vulnerability in case of accidents. Talking about second hand goods, even under wears are brought in and our ladies in particular prefer them to new ones because they say they are better/stronger. My God poverty has really dealt us a very deadly blow and we seem to be losing every little pride and decency that was left in us after the disgraceful episodes of the RUF and the AFRC.
A major nightmare of today’s commuters in Freetown, is overloading sanctioned by SLRSA licensing of vehicles. There is this particular small cab called Nissan Serena which are used as poda-poda. These vans are no wider than the normal taxi cab in Freetown. SLRSA registers this Nissan Serena for 9 passengers when it should actually take seven persons. In fact the seat positions in these vans clearly show two provisions that are comfortable enough. Granted that we do not have adequate transportation, but being that we import second hand vehicles, they should not be overloaded. I really think that the measures taken during Ebola in respect of passengers for poda-podas should be re-introduced. The Nissan Serena vans in particular should really take three persons for the seats after the driver’s.
I must say that so many traffic regulations are violated with impunity. It is very interesting that part of the problem of overloading can be blamed on the Sierra Leone Road safety Authority (SLRSA). It is totally unethical for SLRSA to license vehicles for more passengers than necessary. The laws are very clear but why SLRSA fails to enforce compliance is what they should tell us first. Let us not approach the issue like the tears of the man in the rain whose cry is known only to himself. Why not prosecute SLRSA for registering and licensing vehicles for overloaded numbers of passengers?
In Section 61 (1) of the Road Traffic Act, it says “Where upon the examination of a motor vehicle, it appears to the vehicle Examiner…or Police Officer that owing to any defects in the motor vehicle it is, or is likely to become, unfit for service, that examiner…or police Officer may prohibit the driving of a vehicle on the road”
By Ben Cambayma
Wednesday December 14, 2016

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