June 22, 2016 Joseph S. Margai
The Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) recently held a one day road safety outreach to the Milton Margai School for the Blind in Freetown, donating food items to pupils.
Public Relations Officer, Abdul Karim Dumbuya, while stating the declaration of purpose, said the school’s administration had made a request to them for support.
“This event is also part of the SLRSA Board and Management plans to implement some of the recommendations made at the West Africa Road Safety Conference held in April 2014 at the Bintumani Hotel in Freetown. One of the recommendations was to include persons with disability in road safety outreach activity plan,” he said.
He said that, as highlighted in the recently published Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2010 study – funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, road crashes were the leading cause of death of young people.
“Road crashes are a global epidemic, a preventable plague on the young. Road safety in Sierra Leone is an issue of concern,” he said.
The SLRSA PRO said his institution was one of the government led agencies charged with the responsibility to not only coordinate development in the transport sector, but to as well promote road safety in Sierra Leone.
He said the institution was doing all within its mandate to save the lives of vulnerable road users.
Principal of the Milton Margai School for the Blind, SallieuTuray, said the school was pleased to have had the SLRSA honour their request to commemorate the ‘Day of The African Child’ with Awareness on Road Safety.’
“Children, especially disable ones, are hardest hit by road crashes,” Mr. Turay asserted.
He noted that they (visually impaired) find it very difficult to use the road as members of the public seldom help them while on public transport.
He added that vehicles they are using as school buses are no longer roadworthy and needed repairs.
Mr. Turay pleaded with the Executive Director, Dr. Sarah Finda Bendu, Board and Management of SLRSA to either provide them a new school bus or repair the old ones.
Engineer Lamin Koroma, Head of Transport at the SLRSA, who represented Dr. Sarah Finda Bendu, said the Executive Director was unavoidably absent as she was executing another equally important national assignment.
Quoting Nelson Mandela, the late former President of South Africa, Engineer Lamin Koroma said that “We can no longer ignore this 21st century challenge of road traffic injury amongst our young people. But by taking the safety, security and survival of children and young people as a starting point, and deploying safe system speed management as the vaccine, we know it is possible to significantly reduce road fatalities.”
He continued that children were the future and that their lives must be safe on the roads. He urged pupils to always seek help while on the road and avoid negative road user behaviours.
The event was climaxed by presentation of assorted food items, including 5 bags of rice, a bag of onion, 5 gallons of cooking oil, among others, to the school.