New toll gate charges: Drivers, residents express worries over imminent transport increase

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By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

Commercial drivers and residents in Waterloo Rural District have expressed concerns about the potential increase in transportation fares due to the new toll gate charges on the Wellington -Masiaka route.

They fear that the new charges will also impact the transportation of local goods from the provinces to Freetown.

Dr. Denis Sandy, the Minister of Works and Public Assets, announced on Tuesday during the government’s weekly press conference that toll gate charges would increase for various vehicle categories plying the Wellington to Masiaka route starting March 1st.

The new rates include tricycles paying NLe1, increasing to NLe3, taxis from NLe2 to NLe5, mini-buses (poda-poda) from NLe4 to NLe10, buses from NLe18 to NLe40, and heavy-duty vehicles from NLe180 to NLe700.

Minister Sandy attributed the adjustment to the inflation of the United States Dollar to the Leones and the significant increase in fuel prices, leading to operational losses for businesses. He mentioned the country’s agreement with the China Railway Company, allowing a contract revisit in case of factors affecting business operations.

Aminata Turay, a local soap seller, expressed her concerns about the toll gate fee increase, stating that Waterloo commercial drivers might seize the opportunity to raise transportation fares, impacting her daily commute to sell her products in Freetown. She worries that drivers might use the toll gate increment as justification for further fare increases.

Abdulai Conteh, a laborer at a Wellington production factory, highlighted the potential difficulty in affording transportation if fares increase, given his modest earnings. He expressed concerns about potentially working solely to cover transport costs.

Mohamed Juma Barrie, a truck driver transporting goods from the provinces to Freetown, was surprised by the announced toll gate charges, especially the substantial increase for heavy-duty vehicles. He emphasized that that could lead to higher costs for local products in the market, affecting traders the most.

The toll gate fee adjustments have sparked apprehension among residents and workers who rely on daily transportation, raising questions about the broader economic implications for both commuters and businesses.

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