February 12, 2016 By Jariatu S. Bangura
Members of Parliament yesterday refused to ratify an agreement for the reconstruction of the four-lane Wellington-Masiaka highway, noting that it should be given adequate and proper sensitisation especially as toll fees would be introduced for users.
In his contribution to the debate, Hon. Paramount Chief Sheku A.T. Fasuluku Sonsiama from Kono District said a lot of sensitisation was needed because Sierra Leoneans care much about their rights than responsibilities, and that they were used to using tool free roads.
He said the expansion from two-lane to four would be welcomed, while the payment of Le20 billion compensation to people that would be relocated to other communities ought to be considered further.
“The fiber optic cables have already been laid on that road. What would happen to them when the road would be expanded?” queried the Kono MP. “The work is now left with the SLRA, Ministry of Lands and others concern to look into it thoroughly,” he said.
Hon. Rosaline J.K. Smith said the agreement was good and timely as it would bring enormous benefit to the country. She said an alternative should be considered for trucks and vehicles that would be plying the road.
“If these trucks are being charged with such exorbitant fees per ply, the business people will be the ones paying those charges at the end of the day, as they might be asked to pay for each bag of rice, flour or other goods which will cause shortage of goods,” she cautioned. “The fees should be revisited in order to avoid economic slowdown.”
Hon. Smith further noted that the National Revenue Authority should monitor the 10% interest due to the country from toll charge.
Hon. Umaru Paran Tarawally stated that the introduction of toll fee could be good but noted that many a time Sierra Leoneans loath paying for services rendered to them, adding that government might end up paying if people refuse to pay.
The issue of exclusive rights to the concessionee to charge for toll fee, according to him, should be looked into since the road would not be a newly constructed one.
“It is not good for the country to give CRSG a 25 years right as concession period from the effective date. It is like allowing them to take everything and then after all those years the country would be left with nothing to boast of,” he averred.