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Drivers Union President lauds work of Legal Aid Board

September 16, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai

President of Motor Drivers and General Transport Workers Union, Alpha Amadu Bah, has said that the emergence of the Legal Aid Board has saved many drivers who breach traffic rules and regulations from languishing in prison.

He made this statement in an exclusive interview with Concord Times at his Clay Factory office, Texaco, east Freetown, on Wednesday.

He said no driver is currently behind bats in any correctional centre across the country because the Legal Aid Board had facilitated their release, adding that only two drivers are held in one of the correctional centres in the provinces on criminal charges and not on traffic offences.

“If anyone tells you that Drivers Union hasn’t got lawyers, it’s a lie. We have Legal Aid lawyers who have been very helpful to our members, and we want to thank President Ernest Koroma for bringing that group of lawyers together to seek the welfare of poor people,” he said.

He disclosed that at the moment they have registered 72,000) drivers in the country, adding that they are doing so because they want to bring sanity to the transport industry.

“We have even registered some apprentices in this Union because they are sometimes responsible for the problems between passengers and drivers. We have been teaching them how they should seek the welfare of passengers by not overloading vehicles, and to avoid loading goods and passengers at the same time,” he disclosed.

Quizzed on the current sources of revenue of the Union, Bah disclosed that they get money from contracts with local councils to run various lorry parks in the country, adding that they pay fees to local councils for the use of the parks.

“We also get money from some of our membership that pays their monthly dues, which is Le 5,000. This money is used to pay staff, seek the welfare of our members, and even give stipends to jobless drivers,” he disclosed.

Explaining some of their challenges, the Drivers Union President said their major problem was with Traffic Police Officers and Road Safety Corps.

“They should not always arrest and charge to court our members, there should be an alternative to that. The law enforcers arrest our members without telling them their offences. There are not enough parking spaces in Freetown, but when a driver stops to offload passengers he will be arrested or issued a ticket,” he lamented.

He urged the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) to engage them when making roads so as to help identify areas for the provision of parking spaces, adding that the Drivers Union used to have a representation on the SLRA Board, but that is not the case now.

Bah said his members have problems with naked iron seats in vehicles and substandard auto spare parts as they are some of the causes of road traffic crashes, injuries and deaths.

“We have employed experts who are training our members on the use of the various road signs. We are doing this to prevent road accidents because most times drivers involve in road accidents without knowing where to run at a faster rate and where to slow down,” he said.

He said his vision for the Union was to see that drivers obey law and order and respect passengers who give them money, adding that he wants to see his members respect Traffic Police and Road Safety Corps officials because the latter are discharging their lawful responsibilities.

“We want others to see us as decent people like those in advanced countries. We shouldn’t be lawless, and I have got a team that is working to meet these goals,” he disclosed.

He said they are happy that massive construction of roads was ongoing in the country, which according to him, means their vehicles do not get damage, adding that they are grateful to the government for doing that.A

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