The Director of the License Department at the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA), Ibrahim Sagbah, has said issuance of drivers license now had to meet more strident requirements. He said the rate of accidents in the country is high which is one of the reasons for the transformation of the Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority (SLRTA) to the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) in 2014 to enhance and promote road safety. He was speaking on 21st July 2015 at the round table conference on the use of unlicensed and uninsured vehicles and motorcycles organized by the Road For Development–Sierra Leone (R4D-SL), a Civil Society Road Watch Consortium.
He said to prevent untrained persons driving or putting unsafe vehicles on roads, “the process of issuing licenses is no longer business as usual wherein drivers and vehicle owners sit at home to receive licenses. Driving without a license and driving an unlicensed vehicle is a serious crime. Furthermore, the Authority is on a rebranding process and deploying its personnel nationwide to enforce road safety regulations for which I appeal to all to adhere to SLRSA’s best practices.”
He also underscored at the event held at the Child Welfare Society Conference Hall, 140 Circular Road in Freetown, that the high accident rate in the country has claimed and incapacitated several precious lives reiterating that drivers and commercial bike riders are stakeholders and partners in the development of the Authority and the country informing that road funds are derived from licenses and other road charges and continued that they are mandated to prevent unlicensed vehicles and drivers from plying the streets for which they have simplified the issuance of licenses and other documents.
He said SLRSA Executive Director, Dr. Sarah Bendu is working tirelessly to promote road safety but lamented that some drivers are plying without licenses and driving unlicensed vehicles for which the Authority is working hard to incorporate insurance companies to crackdown on them.
Director Sagbah said Traffic Wardens are responsible to enforce the rules and regulations of the Authority affirming, “the Authority and Government are losing revenue through unlicensed vehicles which is a serious threat to the security of the state” and called on stakeholders, especially the Sierra Leone Police, which SLRSA is complementing, to seriously enforce and arrest unlicensed vehicles.
R4D-SL National Coordinator, Philip P. Lansana disclosed that the conference was to critically look at the road as a catalyst for national development, the safety of citizens, discuss and agree on an action plan to address the issues, especially how to increase revenue in the road sector and protect citizens from disasters as a result of traveling onboard unlicensed and uninsured vehicles.
He also intimated that the R4D–SL was established to contribute to safer and well-maintained road infrastructures for the people of Sierra Leone to live in dignity and access to basic opportunities and facilities. He further stated that the organization has observed rampant use of unlicensed and uninsured vehicles and motorbikes in the country which he attributed to the increase in accidents resulting to injuries and deaths.
He continued that unlicensed, uninsured vehicles and bikes are often overloaded; go through checkpoints unchecked and cover long distances mainly in the provinces and rural areas which is a major threat to security of the country, risks citizens’ lives & reduces revenues.
The R4D-SL National Coordinator went on to state that partnership and cooperation is urgently required to discuss and address the menace as the country is in dire need of revenue to embark on its Post-Ebola Recovery Plan and continuation of the implementation of the Agenda for Prosperity.
The ceremony was chaired by Charles Mambu, Chairman of the Health for All Coalition. Other speakers included National Revenue Authority (NRA) Assistant Commissioner of the Customs and Excise Department, Lizbal Heroe and Chief Superintendent of Police and Acting Director of Traffic Management on Road Safety, Gibril Kabba-Kamara.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.