Police defy calls to review ban on vehicular restriction
March 16, 2018 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The Head of Police Media and Public Relations Unit yesterday maintained that the restriction on movement of vehicles will be enforced fully across the country during the presidential run-off election scheduled for March 27, despite calls for it to be reviewed by both international and local observers.
Even though the government made some buses available to ferry voters to various polling stations on Wednesday, March 7, some were unable to exercise their franchise because the buses plied specific routes and unable to reach every location.
In their preliminary report on the conduct of the elections, the Commonwealth Observer Group noted that while the vehicle restriction instituted by the Sierra Leone Police on Election Day created conducive security environment, the measure could have disenfranchised citizens.
They urged that the ban be reviewed for future elections as according to them, elections remain one of the most vibrant and participatory expression of citizen’s democratic rights.
Similar comment was made by the European Union Observer Mission, who called for the controversial measure to be reviewed.
In a telephone interview with Concord Times, Superintendent Ibrahim Samura said: “Vehicular restrictions will be enforced fully in the run-off election on March 27. We are going to allow ‘Keke’ [tricycles] to ply but we will ask them to stick to the normal price. We are going to put in place robust security measures.”
He, however, disclosed that they were in discussion with the drivers’ union to allow few commercial vehicles to ply specifically to transport voters to polling stations.
He disclosed that several political hotspots have been identified across the country and that police officers were carrying out robust patrol in those areas.
Superintendent Samura refused to disclose the areas that have been earmarked as hotspots but assured that the SLP and other security agencies are more than prepared to curb any eventuality during and after the election.
“We are monitoring the social media for hate messages and tribal sentiments. Those messages we believe will not augur well for the peace and tranquility of the country. We will not hesitate to arrest anyone who makes any statement that affects the peace of the nation,” he warned.