February 15, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
To curb the menacing traffic hold-ups along the notorious Sani Abacha Street and ensure free flow of both human and vehicular traffic, the traffic department of the Eastern Police Division has prepared a parking permit that would allow delivery vehicles only 40 minutes to offload their goods on the busy and congested street.
Sani Abacha Street has over the years been transformed into a market where traders openly display their wares on the street thereby impeding the free flow of traffic for both vehicles and pedestrians. Measures like Operation WID were introduced in the city some three years ago with the aim of curbing street trading and ridding the capital of the mounds of rubbish littering some street corners.
The operation suffered a natural death with its objective never realised. Traffic jams in the city have, over the years, been a worrying development for city residents and some concerned stakeholders, not least the Sierra Leone Police.
Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Saidu Kargbo, the Divisional Traffic Officer (DTO) at the Eastern Police Division, said the division has decided to initiate the 40 minutes parking permit because “drivers of delivery vans have transformed Sani Abacha Street into garage to park their vehicles”.
This, he said, is responsible for the serious blockades that are the usual spectacle along the busy street.
“We are aware that the government is trying to get a market centre for traders doing business at Sani Abacha Street, so we have to manage the influx of people that do business as well as those that are using the route on a daily basis,” said ASP Kargbo, adding that they reason with the traders who have to eke out a living by selling on the street. “They have been complaining that delivery vans and big trucks are blocking their goods, and pedestrians have also raised similar concerns.”
He said they had already declared the frontage of shops opposite the Clock Tower as prohibited places for trucks to park, noting that all these measures are efforts to enhance the free movement of people and vehicles.
ASP Kargbo maintained that the 40 minutes parking permit is free of cost and warned that failure to adhere to the new regulation would result in the police arresting defaulters and charging them to court.
Mohamed Fofanah, a delivery van driver with vehicle number ALJ 187, told Concord Times that they do not favour the 40 minutes parking permit as it is restricting them in carrying out their commercial activities.
“Sometimes the delay is not on our side but the customers who hire us to deliver their goods,” Fofanah said. “There is no parking space along Abacha Street, so we are calling on the police to increase the time for the permit.”