By Abu Bakarr Sulaiman Tarawally
Reforms in the road traffic sector in recent time speak to the fact that the New Direction has solutions to the age-old traffic congestion history and lawlessness by motorist that would soon vanish and never to rear its ugly heads.
Lumley was home to hooting and cacophony of engines cramming the atmosphere with so much carbon monoxide. Commuters and hawkers used to find it difficult to make free movements in different parts of Freetown. The sudden change to this did not happen by magic. All hail to the young dynamic team at the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) whose reforms have led to these pragmatic outcomes and Freetown is beginning to become a civilize city.
The government led by President Julius Maada Bio started in the good spirit of discipline. His disciples better, still members of his administration tasked under a performance contract did not take long to showcase their abilities.
David Panda Noah, the Executive Director of Sierra Leone Roads Safety Authority (SLRSA) explains how it happened. “We wanted to have a free flow of traffic at Lumley. That is why the president thought it fit to construct the Shemgbepieh extension bridge at Juba,” he stated. Even after its commissioning, he said it was a daunting task to have motorists complying, without flouting traffic rules and orders.
On that note, Mr Noah said the authority organised the traffic wardens and traffic brigades to harmonize the current system which has succeeded in ensuring the current free flow of traffic. Traders, workers, commuters and motorist are full of praises for this successful effort as it has eased the burden on passengers having to queue long in the traffic go-slow.
Deputy Executive Director Ibrahim Sannoh said the traffic mitigation is going to be an ongoing process to ensure that sanity prevails in the manner in which motorists should conduct their trade without recourse to obstructing the free flow of traffic. This effort, he said, involves the traders, tricycles (Keke) riders, motor bikes (okadas) and the bulk force of the traffic police and wardens.
Traffic regulations aside, the Sierra Leone Roads Safety Authority has a bigger goal of minimizing road crashes and reckless driving in the country. There is a way of mitigating the scourge through the traffic police wing of the Sierra Leone Police who are making sure that public transport vehicles comply to proscribed capacity and road safety cardinal principles. That is why the Deputy Executive Director of SLRSA, Ibrahim Sannoh recently visited a battery of senior police officers, military personnel, road safety corps and forestry guards at the mile 38 checkpoint to talk about road safety and the need to enforce all road safety laws to cut down the number.
He said overloading, drink driving, over speeding, lack of triangular reflectors in case of breakdown, defected lights and use of Jerry cans as fuel tanks for trailers are responsible factors for major accidents in the country.
Mr. Sannoh said the road safety authority is concerned about the spike in rate of road crashes but assured that there should be a quick turnaround to curtail the death tolls.
He said they cannot work in isolation that is why they are partnering with key stakeholders like the forces to enforce the law and ensure that users strictly abide by all laws legislated in the country.
According to him, the police and the road safety corps are always on the streets to ensure road safety, but road crashes are still on the increase. This ugly trend, he said, must be reversed as “the life of every Sierra Leonean, despite their social status, is equally important.”
Despite the challenges confronted by the authority, Mr. Sannoh said they have established thirteen offices across the country in order to achieve the authority’s mandate. He assured that he will continue to engage the traffic police and sensitize the road users especially the commercial drivers.
The SLRSA boss registered his authority’s commitment on incentives and other emoluments for border or checkpoint staff to motivate them in the discharge of their duties.
The Deputy Inspector General of police in charge of Traffic Management and Road Safety, Sahr Senesie, said they have a duty to their citizens and the state. He admonished that they should not compromise their integrity which is key in upholding the fundamental principles in policing. He appealed to his colleagues to be brothers’ keeper.
The personnel gratified Mr Sannoh for his effort and good leadership style.