Prior to the operations of the fifty new buses in early February this year, which are a component of the Sierra Leone Integrated and Resilient Urban Mobility Project (IRUMP) funded by World Bank Grant, the Ministry of Transport and Aviation had issued a public notice as an ORDER informing the general public that effective midnight Monday 29th January 2024, the Public Transport Corridor would be a NO PARKING or NO ACCESS for push carts (omorlankay), okadas, kekehs, heavy goods vehicles and public transport vehicles (except for SLPTA licensed operators) during the hours of 6:00a.m. to 10:00p.m. The Transport Ministry’s public notice further stated that loading and off-loading would only be permissible during the hours of 10:00p.m. to 5:00a.m, noting that defaulters will be towed at their own cost.
According to the Transport Ministry’s public notice, there are two Public Transport Corridors which are the West Corridor and the East Corridor but our paramount concern here which we believe is of great public interest is the East Corridor which runs from Calaba Town through Bai Bureh Road, Kissy Road, Sani Abacha Street, Wilberforce Street, Rawdon Street and Siaka Stevens Street.
Notwithstanding the ORDER of the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, we have observed with trepidation that the Ministry can talk the talk but can’t walk the walk as evident at Sani Abacha Street where it is business as usual. The so-called ORDER has crumbled at Sani Abacha Street because of the Transport Ministry’s inaction in dealing with defaulters. It is no longer a secret that Omorlankays, Okadas, Kekehs, heavy goods vehicles and public transport vehicles ply the busy street from 6:00a.m. beyond midnight with apparent impunity and the Transport Ministry is doing nothing about such exhibition of lawlessness despite its public notice which people thought was something serious.
The movements of the ‘Waka Fine’ buses in the East Corridor, especially at Sanin Abacha Street, has become extremely difficult because of the daily presence of heavy goods vehicles either loading or off-loading, private vehicles of shop owners and customers, as well as commercial vehicles. These are all clear indications that the Ministry of Transport and Aviation has woefully failed to protect the East Corridor from defaulters and this is having an adverse effect on the operations of the ‘Waka Fine’ buses that are meant to move people faster than other commercial vehicles. We believe the purpose of these buses has been compromised by the Transport Ministry, which is as toothless in enforcing its public notice as the public suggests.
We believe it is about time the Ministry of Transport came out of its cocoon and ensure the public notice is fully enforced otherwise the East Corridor wiould not be considered as a better route for the free movement of the ‘Waka Fine’ buses. The Ministry should therefore implement what they stated in its public notice or the general public would lose confidence in the Ministry for its inability to do what it has promised the people and this would have a telling effect on the ‘Waka Fine’ buses plying the East Corridor. Moreover, the abandonment of road work at Sani Abacha Street has not only exacerbated the situation but has also given more laxity to traders to encroach upon the streetto sell their goods thereby obstructing the free flow of the ‘Waka Fine’ buses. Since most of the iron railings have been removed for extension work, the abandoned ditches have become an eyesore and traders have taken advantage of the situation by encroaching upon the street thereby slowing vehicular traffic in addition to stationary vehicles waiting to either be loaded or off-loaded. We believe something desperate should be done by the Minister and his staff to prove to the public that they are more than capable of protecting the East Corridor for the smooth operations of the ‘Waka Fine” buses. The operations of these buses must be sustained and posterity would surely judge Mr. Minister should he fail in his duty to enforce what he has promised Sierra Leoneans.