January 9, 2018 By Joseph S. Margai
Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation (SLRTC) has been accused by some commuters of selling one of the government buses to unidentified individuals who are now using it as a commercial vehicle with proceeds going into private pockets.
The bus, with government registration number AFQ 904 and the inscription ‘Charity Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology,’ has been seen plying various routes in the country. It is currently plying the Brima Lane-Eastern Police route and was seen undergoing maintenance at Jalloh Terrace last Sunday.
A commuter, Alieu Tunkara, accused SLRTC of selling the government-owned bus to a private institution, noting that the AFQ 904 bus was bought with taxpayers’ money but the proceeds have not been going into government coffers.
“The bus was sold by SLRTC to a private institution and the registration number has never been changed. SLRTC must come out and explain to the public as to how the said bus got into the hands of a private institution and where the proceeds have been going,” he demanded.
He added that SLRTC should stop robbing the people of what belongs to them.
Another commuter, Sorie Bangura, alleged that the SLRTC has sold most of the old buses to private individuals and institutions, thus robbing the state of much needed revenue.
“With the collapse of some mining companies and the fall in price of iron ore, government institutions should be seen generating the much-needed revenue to run the affairs of the state. The situation now shows that SLRTC has been selling government buses to business people and proceeds going into private pockets,” he said.
However, General Manager of SLRTC, Bockarie Lewis Kamara denied the bus carrying the government registration number AFQ 904 was theirs.
“We have received several complaints about that bus but we have investigated it and found out that it does not belong to us,” he said.
He revealed that during the reign of former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, some buses were given to SLRTC, adding that others were also allocated to various government ministries, departments and agencies and that the bus in question might be one of those allocated to MDAs.
“I have personally chased the bus in question at one time and called a meeting with my staff to ascertain the legal owner but we later discovered that it was not ours. At the moment, we are confused as to who owns it but SLRTC continues to receive the blame from the public,” he said.
He said the bus in question was part of the 909 TATA buses that were brought into the country by late President Kabbah government, disclosing that SLRTC had already gotten rid of all those buses but unknown private people were still using them.