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NEWS : Local News  

Driversí Unions Clash Over Lorry Parks In Sierra Leone
By Aruna Turay & Paul Lamin in Kenema
May 26, 2009, 17:12
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Barely one week after the inauguration into office of the newly elected executive of the Motor Drivers and General Transport Union, headed by Alhaji Abubakarr Fofanah, a breakaway group from the Union, known as the Commercial Driversí Welfare Association, headed by one Aruna Conteh a.k.a. Ambush Commander, has mounted serious pressure on the new executive over the control of Lorry Parks nationwide, especially in the Kenema City.

The current commotion is in relation with which of the groups should have absolute control over the collection of park dues.

This issue has even attracted the attention of the Kenema City Mayor, who has raised serious concern over the unfolding shaky situation.

In a meeting organized by the Kenema Police Station on Saturday 23rd May 2009, at which both parties were ably represented, the Regional Crime Officer East, Samuel Sanie Sesay, who doubles as chairman of the meeting, informed his audience that the purpose of the meeting was to address the tension over who should collect the park dues.

Mr. Samuel Sesay pointed out that it is but fitting that issues with the potential of undermining the peace and security of the region be adequately ironed out by the police before taking different twists.

For him, the Local Unit Commander (LUC) of the Kenema Police Division, Joseph B. Kabia, noted that the matter between the two parties border on security, adding that very few people are benefiting from the Drivers Union funds.

LUC Kabia continued that the country belongs to everybody and not a group of individuals, while emphasizing that "If anybody attempts to threaten the peace and security of the region for selfish gains, the police will take a strong action against that individual or group of people".

A representative of the Drivers Union in Kenema, Cyril B. Alie, confirmed that a formal complaint has been made to the Resident Minister East, adding that the said complaint was aimed at bringing to the attention of the authorities concerned the nefarious activities of the Commercial Driversí Welfare Association, which he said they consider as saboteurs of the legitimately and duly elected new executive.

Barely one week after the inauguration into office of the newly elected executive of the Motor Drivers and General Transport Union, headed by Alhaji Abubakarr Fofanah, a breakaway group from the Union, known as the Commercial Driversí Welfare Association, headed by one Aruna Conteh a.k.a. Ambush Commander, has mounted serious pressure on the new executive over the control of Lorry Parks nationwide, especially in the Kenema City.

The current commotion is in relation with which of the groups should have absolute control over the collection of park dues.

This issue has even attracted the attention of the Kenema City Mayor, who has raised serious concern over the unfolding shaky situation.

In a meeting organized by the Kenema Police Station on Saturday 23rd May 2009, at which both parties were ably represented, the Regional Crime Officer East, Samuel Sanie Sesay, who doubles as chairman of the meeting, informed his audience that the purpose of the meeting was to address the tension over who should collect the park dues.

Mr. Samuel Sesay pointed out that it is but fitting that issues with the potential of undermining the peace and security of the region be adequately ironed out by the police before taking different twists.

For him, the Local Unit Commander (LUC) of the Kenema Police Division, Joseph B. Kabia, noted that the matter between the two parties border on security, adding that very few people are benefiting from the Drivers Union funds.

LUC Kabia continued that the country belongs to everybody and not a group of individuals, while emphasizing that "If anybody attempts to threaten the peace and security of the region for selfish gains, the police will take a strong action against that individual or group of people".

A representative of the Drivers Union in Kenema, Cyril B. Alie, confirmed that a formal complaint has been made to the Resident Minister East, adding that the said complaint was aimed at bringing to the attention of the authorities concerned the nefarious activities of the Commercial Driversí Welfare Association, which he said they consider as saboteurs of the legitimately and duly elected new executive.

He stated further that the Driversí Union is legally mandated to run the affairs of all lorry parks nationwide, and that the so called Commercial Driversí Welfare Association has no legal basis to even operate as a separate body, not to talk about collecting dues.

The National Secretary General for the Drivers Union, Sheik Kamara cited Section 221 of the Industrial Act, stating that it gives the authority to the Driversí Union to man the parks nationwide.

The Union, according to him, is also charged with the responsibility of seeking the wellbeing of all drivers of the Union, adding that any auxiliary branch of the driversí union is illegal.

Aruna Conteh a.k.a Ambush Commander, Head of the Commercial Drivers Welfare Association, cited Section 19 of the National Constitution of Sierra Leone, which, according to him, gives them the right as citizens to associate and dissociate themselves from any grouping.

For him, members of his association reached the decision to dissociate themselves from the Union, over what they consider as the Unionís exhibition of lack of transparency and inhuman treatment towards drivers.

He promised that his association seeks the welfare of all members of the Union and not only a selected few, as others do". Ambush Commander pointed out that the Driversí Union should not be collecting money from innocent drivers, as he puts it, "The Union is just a trade union that should be advocating for driversí welfare and not to collect money from them". He said the commercial sector of the Union is charged with that responsibility as stated in the Unionís constitution of 1988. He said it is based on this clause in the constitution that they saw the need to set up the association.


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