July 25, 2016 By Gabriel Benjamin
In April, 2016 President Ernest Bai Koroma carried out a major Cabinet reshuffle. New Cabinet Ministers, Ambassadors, and other statutory appointments were announced. The move, according to government spokesman Abdulai Bayraytay, was to inject fresh blood into the administration and to help the President, who is serving his second and final term, to fully deliver on his campaign promises to Sierra Leoneans.
Hon. Alhaji Ibrahim Kemoh Sesay was born in Port Loko, Northern Sierra Leone, and is a former Member of Parliament that represented Port Loko District from 2002-2007, won re-election in 2007 with 75.7% of the total vote in his district. He defeated Munirr Sankoh of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party by nearly 9,000 votes, before he was appointed Minister of Transport and Aviation by President Koroma in October 2007. He was moved from the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs to Works, Housing and Infrastructure Ministry.
Mr. Sesay is among the few ministers Sierra Leoneans were not comfortable with his redeployment to a higher ministry due to the role he played in the inglorious unauthorised landing of a mysterious plane loaded with cocaine at the Lungi International Airport in 2008, while he was the country’s Minister of Transport and Aviation. This made President Koroma to relieve him of his duties as Transport and Aviation Minister. .
However, political analysts saw the President’s action as the recycling of the old brigade of APC politicians that have milked the country dry over the years. “This is an outright indication that President Koroma lacks the will power to bring the country out of the wood. We have lost hope as far as the Agenda for Prosperity is concerned. From all shades, it is business as usual,” fumed Wurrie Bah.
But that may change with the innovations he is about to spearhead in his new ministry.
When road capacity is expanded near congested routes, drivers flock to the new facility hoping to save time. Also, the new roadways tend to draw people who would otherwise avoid congested conditions or take alternative modes to their destinations.
Many cities in Africa are now paying more attention to develop their public transport and road networks to support the increasing number of people who are using these services as a more viable option. This often makes the construction of second tier roads, known as flyovers, inevitable.
Flyovers help reduce the impact of vehicle emissions on the environment and saves up to 60-70% in terms of time. Flyovers are meant to support traffic and are constructed to reduce congestion on city roads.
Almost every road in Freetown is riddled with traffic. This traffic places undue burden on both the traffic police officer who uses hand motions to control the traffic and other road users.
Sierra Leone, being no stranger to congestion and traffic woes, should begin to think about constructing flyovers. This is the innovative moves Mr. Sesay is set to introduce in the country.
Mr. Sesay pronounced on 98.1FM ‘Good Morning Salone’ breakfast programme that plans are under way to construct flyovers from Lumley to Juba, western of the capital, and from Kissy By-Pass to Black-hall Road, east Freetown. This according to him is the antidote to the horrible traffic situation in Freetown.
“Traffic normally occurs at these junctions…it is important that their capacity is increased to accommodate more vehicles,” says Mr. Sesay, in an interview with Radio Democracy reporter Kadija Bangura. He added: “I just came back from China where I signed MOUs with several Chinese companies on how we can construct flyovers in Freetown… and also on the possibilities of constructing a bridge across the sea linking Freetown with Lungi. We are also looking at the possibilities of bringing mono rails to Sierra Leone, through some Chinese and Japanese companies. ”
China Railway Seventh Group (CRSG) is currently funding the two-lane Wellington-Masiaka Highway project. This is aimed at decongesting the highway, which has become a nightmare for commuters and visitors alike. Massive construction work is ongoing and it is expected to be completed in 36 months time.
The Lumley flyover will allow vehicles going to the Juba – Goderich axis to by-pass the Lumley roundabout, speeding up the flow of traffic around that area. The same applies for vehicles using the Kissy By-Pass Road. “They will have to make a direct acceleration to the highway without affecting traffic flow. This is a better alternative to ending the traffic nightmares in Freetown, avers Mr. Sesay.”
Mr. Sesay’s initiative of constructing flyovers in the major congested intersections and roundabouts in the city, in order to address the horrible gridlocks commuters experience daily, will be at no immediate cost to the government. “We understand the importance of these projects. We are not giving anyone money… but we are going to speed up the process. This is a 24 months contract from the day the work begins.”
This innovation is one of the many initiatives that could be use to address the problem of traffic jams in Freetown and not the deployment of traffic police men to traffic prone junctions during peak hours.
Relevant authorities should look at the possibility of establishing a traffic command centre to check perennial traffic offenders. The centre should be responsible for the monitoring of traffic offenders using functional digital CCTV cameras that will capture defaulters’ vehicles through number plate recognition.
Although there have been allegations of multiple contract inflation frauds, connivance between contractors and government officials, and shortchanging of the government in terms of value for money in the Works Ministry, should Mr. Sesay’s innovative moves pan out, his critics will be silent, the President commended for re-appointing and retaining him as a Cabinet Minister, and he will have his name written in gold as Sierra Leone most innovative Works, Housing and Infrastructure Minister. The narrative about him will change!