By Alfred Koroma
The Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority or SLRSA has used this year’s World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims to specially remember people who died in the Wellington fire disaster and victims of other fatal road accidents in the country.
In November last year, about 154 people died and dozens badly injured after a fuel tanker which collided with a truck exploded in Wellington, East of Freetown. Crashing with the truck, fuel spilled from the tanker minutes before exploding and engulfing people trying to gather the leaking fuel and vehicles waiting in the heavy traffic the incident had caused.
At a dead-march and wreath-laying in Wellington, SLRSA recalled the victims of the tanker tragedy, citizens who have lost their lives in other road incidents and emphasized the need for citizens to embrace road safety rules.
“It was like a dooms day. It was sad. It was sorrow. But our hope and trust should be in God,” Rev Almamy Papso Kargbo from the Inter Religious Council recalled the tanker disaster shortly before offering prayers at the ceremony.
It was a somber ceremony on Saturday morning well-attended by government representatives and other stakeholders as part of the commemoration of the World Remembrance Day, often observed to honor victims of road accidents.
“Justice for Road Accident Victims (Remember, Support & Act,” was SLRSA’s focus for this year’s commemoration which started on November 14 and ended on the 20th.
All over the world, we are remembering those who died as a result of road accident. As we remember the victims, we want to advice that we should be conscious as we drive and avoid drinking while driving. We should remember we have responsibility as individuals to be conscious while on the road, SLRSA Executive Director, Rev Smart K Senesie told the gathering.
According to him, within January to June this year alone, over 9, 623 accidents have happened in Sierra Leone with 225 deaths reported. AIG Brima Kanneh, Head of Traffic and Road Safety similarly reechoed the alarming statistics, saying Sierra Leone Police has recorded over one million accidents just within January and March this year, most of which he blamed on lack of road signs.
A research has indicated that 1.2 million People die from road accidents yearly and over 20 million people are suffering from road accidents injuries. Road accident will be the fifth leading causes of death by 2030 if not avoided, General Brima Sesay, Director General, National Disaster Management Agency disclosed.
There are so many causes of accidents but most of it is caused by human errors and that consequences follow.
People drink while driving; take advantage of road signs, jump traffic signals and drive without putting on seat belt. We have to pay attention to rules and regulations governing the road, he said, hitting on commercial motor bike riders or ‘okada’ as one of the greatest risks in the country’s roads presently.
In his statement, Kallnnamu Kumabeh II, Secretary General of Motor Drivers Union assured their Union’s support to ensure that road accidents as the Wellington tanker explosion, did not reoccur.
Alhassan Karamoh Kondeh, Senior Permanent Secretary spoke on behalf of the Ministers of Transport and Aviation, and Internal Affairs who were unavoidably absent. He called for more road signs and self regulation of the transport unions to ensure they go by road safety signs.
“When you drink, don’t drive. When you drive, don’t drink, either of the two is not good,” Kondeh tells the gathering.