July 19, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai
Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) has issued a five-month ultimatum to commercial drivers who remove cushion seats and replace them with metals.
The ultimatum was issued yesterday by the institution’s Executive Director, Dr. Sarah Bendu, in a meeting with executive members of the Motor Drivers and General Transport Workers Union at her head office on Kissy Road in Freetown.
Dr. Sarah Bendu said they wanted to ban all metal seats in vehicles since 2013 but their plan was delayed by the outbreak of Ebola.
“The urge to ban these metal seats was raised by the public during our various radio and television programs. 70 percent of the calls we’ve been receiving during our programs are for the removal of metal seats,” she said.
She revealed that in 2013, her institution did a survey and that they discovered that over 3,000 public vehicles were having metal seats, adding that they also discovered that whenever accident occurs, victims are left with multiple fractures, while some would die as a result.
She said her institution has gone ahead to secure a supplier who will be importing cushion seats and has already imported two 40-feet containers in order to replace metal seats, adding that drivers should pay for the said seats though installment.
“The lives lost on the road are very important than the money that we chase. Because of metal seats, drivers are impoverishing people’s lives when accident occur. We don’t want to loss lives carelessly,” she said.
She charged that after the five months ultimatum, they will start to arrest and tow vehicles with metal seats.
President of the Motor Drivers Union, Alpha Umaru Bah, pleaded to officials of the institution to extend the grace period of replacing metal seats with cushion ones to a year.
He said he would sensitise his entire membership about the ultimatum and they will work towards meeting the demand of the Authority in order to save lives on the road.
He invited the importer of the cushion seats to a meeting with the Union’s members so that they can negotiate the price for the seats.
Angela Bazzy, the importer of the cushion seats, said she used to sell the seats at a cost of Le500, 000 for big ones but because Dr. Sarah Bendu appealed to her on behalf of the drivers, she has reduced that amount to Le250,000.
She further explained that she used to sell the smaller ones at a cost of Le300,000 but have reduced it to Le150,000.
“This consignment is just an experimental phase and if the drivers demand more, we will import them without delay,” she assured.
A representative of the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, Unisa Sesay, said SLRSA was executing exactly the objective of his ministry, which is to save lives.