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As he commission buses

President Koroma warns - ‘no business as usual’

July 8, 2015 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

President Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday delivered a stern warning to workers of the Sierra Leone Road Transportation Corporation (SLRTC) that it should not be business as usual with regards the handling of government buses, especially the newly arrived ones from the People’s Republic China.

While commissioning the 100 vehicles procured by the government to ease the transportation difficulties faced by Sierra Leoneans, President Koroma observed that it was no secret some workers at the SLRTC, especially those operating the workshops, have been engaged in the habit of removing new parts and replacing them with old ones; a practice he said was the more reason why buses procured in the past could not last long.

“We have to talk to ourselves at the SLRTC, especially those at the workshops, that it should not be business as usual,” warned President Koroma. “The buses are accompanied with spare parts that would last for three years, so we do not want to see people coming to us again to ask for spare parts. We will move on until we solve the transportation problem in this country.”

He encouraged the SLRTC management to ensure that the system being put in place to collect monies generated by the buses was effective because “we wouldn’t want money that should go to government coffers finds its way in the pockets of individuals”.

He said as a responsible government, they had demonstrated by the procurement of the buses that “we are sensitive to the cry of our people”.

“It is disturbing to see every morning when coming to work passengers across the city queuing for transport. Because we care, we always listen to the cry of our people,” said Mr. Koroma. “We are inviting and encouraging the private sector to partner with us to address the transportation problem in the country. It is a big problem.”

However, President Koroma admitted that the 100 buses would not be enough to solve all the transportation challenges in the country, which was why they had resolved as a government to commercial them so that more vehicles would be bought.

Minister of Transportation and Aviation, Leonard Balogun Koroma, stated that the country’s public transport system has been fraught with many challenges, citing the thousands of people that are left stranded daily, especially during the rush hours in the morning and evening.

“Today the first step in a journey of a thousand miles to revamp and decisively address Sierra Leone’s public transportation system has begun with the delivery of 100% government funded 100 brand new buses,” said Minister Koroma. “We have taken concrete steps to ensure that this project is commercially viable and sustainable.”

According to him, the entire package cost twelve million United States dollars (US$12m), out of which about 30% has been invested into replacing obsolete machinery, tools and equipment which had, in the past, left the SLRTC incapacitated in carrying out effective maintenance and repair of its bus fleet.

Statement was also made by the Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Zhao Yanbo, who commended the effort of the government in procuring the vehicles.

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