By Alfred Koroma
The Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Abass Bundu has taken a swipe over lawless use of traffic roads by commercial motor bike riders, saying they are ‘causing tremendous havoc and danger to the public.’
“Motor bike riders, like motor vehicle drivers are subject to traffic rules and are obliged to respect traffic rules. But our own motor bike riders appear to consider themselves above the law.”
“To get to an interception, instead of waiting to giving way to traffic, they find a way to rover around the traffic; navigate their way out of it and in the process present very serious danger to road users,” the Speaker said. Dr. Bundu was speaking during Parliamentary Session on Thursday 12 January, 2022.
Commercial Bike Riders or locally known in Sierra Leone as ‘Okada’ Riders are a significant part of the Sierra Leone public transport service. During rush hours, many people prefer their movements on Okadas to dodge heavy traffic along the congested roads within the country.
But Commercial Bike Riders are also the most reckless of the country’s public transport service providers. They have less or no regard for traffic rules and account for most of the traffic accidents.
In May 2016, the Ministry of Internal Affairs in conjunction with the Sierra Leone Police and Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) banned them from plying the Central Business District (CBD) of Freetown to restore traffic sanity.
Authorities banned the motor bike riders from operating within major streets and roads of the city including Kissy Road, Fourah Bay Road, Sani Abacha Street, Macauley Street, Krootown Road, Pademba Road, Circular Road, Campbell Street, Benjamin Lane, Adelaide Street, Savage Street, Main Motor Road Congo Cross, Wilkinson Road, Spur Road, Jomo Kenyatta Road, Rokel Street, Macdonald Street and Fergusson Street.
But the enforcement of the code of conduct barring Okada Riders from the major streets halted after the change of administration in 2018 which brought in the Bio led administration.
“Time there was, I remember the Central Business District was exempted from use of bike riders. But they are back and causing tremendous havoc and danger to the public,” the Speaker said. “I would like this mater to be taken up by the Internal Affairs Committee. I think the law should be enforced. Nobody is above the law.”
“The police ought to be reminded of their duty. It is very-very disturbing and very- very concerning. We cannot have one group of the people obeying the law and another group is seeing or setting themselves above the law,” he added, calling on the Transport and Internal Affairs Committees of the Legislative House to draw the attention of the Police and ensure road traffic regulations are enforced.
Though inconsistent, recent data shows an alarming rate of road accidents in Sierra Leone.
In an interview last week, the Manager of Research and Development of the Sierra Leone Roads Safety Authority (SLRSA), Ambrose Tucker told Concord Times that Nine Thousand, Six Hundred and Twenty-Three (9,623) road crashes occurred across the country, killing 225 people within a period of 9 months – January to September last year.
But the Sierra Leone Police recorded a different figure. Its Information Officer for Traffic Management and Road Safety Directorate, Chief Inspector Edward Kotor Kamara said they recorded 3,463 road crashes within the same period with 296 deaths.
Lack of road signs and in most cases reckless use of roads by drivers and in particular, Okada Riders has been blamed for most road incidents in the country.
“Commercial Motor Bike Riders are one of the greatest risks in the country’s roads presently, Director General, National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), General Brima Sesay said at a wreath-laying ceremony for road traffic victims in November.