In a move gearing towards raising awareness and sensitizing the public about the importance and economic benefit of the toll road stretching from Wellington to Masiaka, the Ministry of Youth Affairs, on Friday 19th May 2017,at the Youth Ministry conference hall, engaged stakeholders from different facet in society, including civil society activists to continued educating and raising awareness on the importance of the toll road.
The head of projects management in the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Mr Mohamed Sahid Koroma, commonly called SK, in his succinct presentation, told attendants that the toll road is not a new phenomenon in the African Continent as there are toll roads and bridges in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and many other African States. Mr Koroma continued that, because the toll road is a novelty in our country, they the ministry of Youth Affairs in collaboration with the Road Engineers, the China Railway Seventh Group (CRSG)to embark on a country wide sensitization to educate the people on the importance of the toll road and its economic benefit it would bring in our economy.
Mr M S Koroma , who is an engineer, a political scientist and an expert in project management furthered that, on the completion of the toll road, the country would attracts tourists, boost the economy, create employment, and capacitate our local engineers in the area of technology and toll road construction for the future. He however reiterated that there would be disadvantages, but he stresses that the benefit and advantages would outweighs the disadvantages.
Mr Victor Lansana Koroma, Executive Director of Health Alert, in his submission, emphasize that, the toll road system is one of the development that would make a nation developed rapidly because of the economic benefit embedded in it. He continued that, the toll road system would make a country to be counted among developed nations because it would create massive employment and increase the knowledge of citizens who are who are working with technocrats during construction. Mr Victor Lansana Koroma made it categorically clear to the Youth Ministry that, they should ensure the Chinese contractors obey the Local Content Policy by employing citizens in all department of the toll road system to increase their knowledge because they would not be here forever.
Mr Victor Lansana Koroma furthered that, the government should be aware of exploitation from the Police and other unpatriotic Sierra Leoneans. He stressed, that if the drivers would be charged for using the toll road, the number of police checkpoint should be drastically reduced because vehicle owner or drivers would not be paying the toll charges at the same time been harassed by police officers. He continued that, the relevant authorities should be cognizant of stationary vehicles along the toll road because they are the major factor for many road accidents over the years. He concluded, there should be an ambulance service to take accident victims to hospitals.
The country Director of the Traditional Healers Association, Mr. Abdul Bangura said that, the government and the Chinese Engineers should put mechanism in place to respond instantly respond to breakdown vehicles because the oil spillage will damage the tarmac if left unattended.
The Executive Director for Health Network Robert Kondama Kargbo said that, the issue of the toll road is not only for commercial vehicle drivers, but a national issue which affects all vehicle owners because they would be plying the same roots. He continued that, the sensitization should not only be left with the Youth Ministry but rather a collective effort of all Sierra Leoneans to engage community people in a move to sensitize them on the importance and economic benefits of the toll road system.
The Drivers Union representative, Mr. Kombo Koroma, min his brief remarks, said that they will put their own concerns about the toll road system in written.
Other stakeholders including the president of the Anti-Violence Movement Mr. Bernard Conteh and President Youth Coalition Mr. Morlai Conteh all made salient contributions on the importance of the toll but stressed on the pricing which they said should be in the best interest of the people.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.