May 16, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
It is commonplace in Freetown to see youths washing cars on the streets, with most probably ignorant of the fact spilling of water tarred roads destroy the tar.
Some major streets in Freetown, including Dundas Street, Kennedy Street, Henry Street, Charles Street, and Robert Street, among others, have now become car washing centres.
Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA), Sorie Ibrahim Kanu, washing of cars on tarred streets washes eventually washes the tar away, thus creating potholes.
“When someone constantly continues to spill water on the tar it would settle on it and soon begin to make potholes. These potholes will get expanded as long as vehicles persistently ply on the road, thereby leading to the destruction of the tar,” he explained.
He said car wash centres must be located off the streets, so as not to contribute to the destruction of roads.
Spilling of water and lubricants like petrol, diesel, kerosene and engine oil, he said, also help destroy the roads.
He noted that Sierra Leoneans should be sensitised on the issue, to prevent negative human activities destroying tarred roads.
“Also, there are some youths who are in the habit of burning vehicle tyres on the tarred road, thus leading to its destruction. Some drivers and their apprentices, whose vehicles encounter breakdown along the highway, are also in the habit of setting fire on the road to keep themselves warm. This act also destroys the tar on the road,” he observed.
He noted that government spends a lot of money to construct roads within the municipality of Freetown and other areas in the country.
In an interview with Abu Kanu, one of the youths who wash cars on Dundas Street in Freetown, he said they have no other place to carry out their economic daily activity besides Dundas Street.
“Here there is a water well that is very close to the street and water is one of the main commodities that we use to wash cars. There is no space to establish a car wash centre because every area we have attempted was declared to be private properties,” he said.
He said most of them do not have formal education and that car washing was their only means of survival.
Asked if they were aware that spilling water on the roads destroys the tar, he did not give a direct answer, but rather justified their harmful act by suggesting that without car washing, like some of their colleagues, they would embark on armed robbery.
“Because we have been engaged in some activities that could earn us our living, we should be left alone instead of telling us that we are destroying the road,” he said.
He added that if the government provides them with alternative livelihoods like commercial motor bikes or establishing skills training centres, they would be willing to quit their current job.