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Sierra Leone News: Fuel crisis: govt. buses stop operations

The public transportation system and passengers are suffering because the Chinese buses that the government acquired are sitting idle. According to the Minister of Transportation, the Sierra Leone Roads Transport Corporation (SLRTC), do not have enough money to buy fuel for the buses.
According to the Minister of Transport, Balogun Koroma, the perception that the buses have mechanical problems is not correct. “The buses are grounded because of a lack of fuel; it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have mechanical breakdowns.”
Koroma responded to questions posed to him regarding the status of the buses at the 2018 budget hearing. The Minister said, “We appealed to the Ministry of Finance to give some support to SLRTC to cushion the effect of the fuel price increase. But, because of budgetary constraints that amount is not forthcoming, so the buses are parked.”
He said, “There is no guarantee of profit. You cannot guarantee sustainability of investment or even regular maintenance of the buses because you are not generating enough revenue to make the operations profitable,” he said.
“In the first place we had to retain the Le1000 fee from Lumley to the central bus station. Now, if you take a bus of twenty seats and you charge Le1000 for twenty passengers, you are probably incurring a loss of Le100,000 because it will not even pay for the fuel costs let alone the salaries of the driver or the conductor; let alone the monitors on the bus and maintenance,” he explained.
Essentially, the Ministry and the SLRTC are running a bus service at a loss, for several reasons including mismanagement, corruption, insufficient pricing and poor financial budgeting.
The Minister blamed the government for refusing to increase the price to passengers. “Unless we significantly increase the cost of public transportation, SLRTC cannot make a profit.”
He said they recently sacked over forty conductors and drivers for conniving to defraud the management. “You go into the bus and they tell you they have run out of tickets. No, they have not run out of tickets. Passengers drop their tickets on the floor of the bus they take it and resell it.”
The Minister admitted that there is corruption at the SLRTC. “I am not running from facts. These are the facts.”
ZJ/19/8/17
By Zainab Joaque
Monday August 21, 2017.

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