May 10, 2019
By Jariatu S. Bangura
Students and pupils of the Milton Margai School of the blind and Milton Margai College of Education and Technology, in collaboration with the disability community, have presented a petition letter to the Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Abass Bundu, for the House to enact disable friendly laws in connection to road safety.
The petition letter states among other things that Parliament should do more to help make laws that would make roads more disable friendly, as the laws they have been legislating in the past years in that direction are not disable friendly.
The Fifth UN Global Road Safety Week started on 6-12 May 2019 and it acknowledges that strong leadership is needed to advance road safety in countries and communities to achieve related Sustainable Development Goal and other global targets.
Thousands of advocates worldwide were taking the advantage of the week to speak up for road safety and called for urgent action on the concrete interventions that have proven to save lives around the world.
Such measures, featured in the WHO Save LIVES technical package, include improving road safety management; making roads, vehicles and road user’s safe; and enhancing emergency care following a crash.
According to UN Road Safety Collaborations, despite progress in many countries, road traffic deaths continue to rise, with an annual 1.35 million fatalities.
The UN Road Safety Collaboration stated that road traffic injuries were now the leading killer of children and young people aged 5-29 years.
Principal of the Milton Margai School for the Blind, Sallieu Turay, said few days ago, some of his pupils heard on radio discussion program about road safety, which forced them to approach him with serious concerns that needed to be addressed.
He said they did agree to write petition and send it to various Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that can provide potential solution to their concerns, adding that Parliament is one of those departments having been one of the arms of government that makes laws.
He said they approached Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) for them to be included in the campaign team on road safety.
Reading the petition, a year 2 student of the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology (MMCET), Sulaiman Moriba, said there was lack of compliance of Section 25 of the Disability Act of 2011 which states that “operators of public service vehicles shall adapt such vehicles to convey persons with disability, in such manner as may be specified by the Commission”.
He said Sierra Leone has experienced serious road accidents due to the carelessness of drivers and poor road signs, stating that many victims have become disabled due to such carelessness; hence the SLRSA should ensure that they address the issues immediately.
He said the Sierra Leone Road Safety Act of 2016 will soon be taken to Parliament for amendment, thus urging that Parliament should make sure that Section 26 of the Persons with Disability Act of 2011 be complied with.
The Act provides that ‘Where the Commission considers that any public premises are inaccessible to persons with disability by reason of any structural, physical or other impediment, the Commission may serve on the proprietor of the premises concerned an adjustment order’.
In his response, Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Abass C. Bundu, expressed compassion to see disable pupils brought a petition letter that expressed major concern to him as a parent.
He noted that road safety week is meant for the improvement of road safety across the world as 1.2million people lose their lives ever, with about 50 million getting injured every year
He commended those that took the opportunity to meet Parliament on the said issue and promised to bring it to the attention of those concerns, and as well prepare the House to include safety in all road bills.
He promised that the issue will be communicated with the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority as they have the primary responsibility to address the current situation.
He assured that he will share the concerns with Members of Parliament whenever the House commences and will urge them to treat road safety issue essentially for the benefit of all.
“We must take immediate actions to address the issue. I think the respective institutions take responsibility to fast track the said issue. The fact of life is that the most comprehensive laws could be passed but the implementing entities must take responsibility and must be met,” he said.