December 18, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai
Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) has on Tuesday and Wednesday commissioned two licensing offices in Kambia and Koinadugu districts, northern Sierra Leone, thereby easing the numerous constraints that motorists endure to secure their licenses at SLRSA’s headquarters on Kissy Road in Freetown.
Ibrahim Sangba, SLRSA’s Director of Licenses, who chaired the two events, said one of their mandates is to license all motorists and their vehicles or motor bikes, but prior to the decentralization effort of the government through SLRSA, people were facing lots of constraints, ranging from road accidents, fatigue, expenditure and time consuming, among others, to acquire their vehicle and driving licenses in Freetown.
“The service is now at your door step, if only you meet all the criteria which our officers will give to you, you will be licensed in your own town without constraints. I want to let you know that for the past three years, there had been no increment in the price of license. All of you are encouraged to take your licenses and also obey the various road signs while driving because safety is of concern to us at SLRSA,” he said.
He said SLRSA’s Executive Director, Dr. Sarah Finda Bendu, had always stressed that people of Sierra Leone deserve the services of the authority at their door step, so as to ease the constraints of obtaining licenses.
At Kambia, the Regent Chief of Gbinle Dixon Chiefdom, Alusine Bangura, said they were very happy to have an office where drivers and their vehicles could be licensed.
He said there were lots of unlicensed and unregistered vehicles in that part of the country as most of the motor bikes and vehicles do use Guinea number plates instead of Sierra Leone, adding that the motorists were doing it intentionally because it was difficult to go and do their registration in Freetown.
In Kabala town,Koinadugu district, Paramount Chief Gbawuru Mansaray III of Wara Wara Yagala Chiefdom, also said the dominant number plates in Koinadugu district are Guinean and fake ones, stating that such was so because of the challenge drivers face to cover some distance to travel to Freetown to license and register their vehicles and motor bikes.
He said they were now relieved from the numerous constraints they used to encounter in obtaining licenses for drivers and their vehicles.
The Paramount Chief said the deployment of Road Safety Corps by Dr. Sarah Bendu in Kabala has aided the crossing of school going children at the various crossing points, stabilized the cases of frequent road accidents in the township, and provided road safety education to primary and secondary schools, among other benefits.
“Our major concern now is the huge number of abandoned and stationary vehicles on the road from Kabala to Freetown. One of our best doctors here died in road accident caused by stationary vehicles. We are appealing to SLRSA through Dr. Bendu to help remove them on the road,” he said.
P.C Gbawuru Mansaray III, who was the first to renew his driving and vehicle’s licenses, urged Commercial Motor Bike Riders Union and Drivers Union to encourage their membership to obtain licenses.
SLRSA’s Executive Director, Dr. Sarah Finda Bendu, said the establishment of the two licensing offices in the two districts was in adherence to the cries of people who were calling for them.
“We have heard complaints that because most of the motor bikes and vehicles were unlicensed, they could not be traced if they hit someone and run away. All stakeholders in the district must encourage drivers and riders to obtain their licenses so that they could be easily traced when they hit people,” she said.
Dr. Bendu, who said in 2018 her institution, will start issuing biometric driving licenses, also said plans were underway to provide a hand-held device to the Road Safety Corps in order to detect, if vehicles have wrong registration number.
She noted that they will spend some time to train drivers before the issuance of a driving license, calling on stakeholders to establish road safety committee inclusive students, teachers, riders and drivers, paramount and town chiefs, among others, noting that SLRSA is not running a deaf and dumb institution that’s why stakeholders are encouraged to be involved in road safety drive.
In Kabala, Dr. Bendu told riders and drivers that there will be no excuse if they don’t obtain their licenses because the service is now at their door step.
She stressed the need to keep the society safe by observing road signs while using the road, saying that their basic mandates include engineering, education and enforcement.
She promised to remove all the abandoned vehicles on the road leading to Kabala as requested by P.C Mansaray III in order to prevent road accident.
Local Unit Commanders, Commanding Officers of Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, Chairmen of both Bike Riders and Drivers Unions, District Security Coordinators of the Office of National Security (ONS), among other stakeholders, thanked and appreciated SLRSA for decentralising its offices in the regions.