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‘Street trading more lawlessness than commercial bike riding’

-Says Charles Mambu

July 1, 2016 By Victoria Saffa

Executive Director of Health for All Coalition (HFAC), Charles Mambu, has stated that street trading amounts to more lawlessness than commercial bike riding in the country, and that government should not be selective in their quest to curb lawlessness.

He was speaking on Culture Radio’s ‘Tok bot wetin dae mona yu’ programme Wednesday, aired in collaboration with the BBC Media Action at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) hall in Freetown.

Mambu said most streets in the capital, Freetown, were occupied by street traders and urged the government to find an alternative market for the nomadic traders.

He said the police should not only focus on bike riders but also exert their energies curbing street trading in the city.

David Sesay, National President of the Sierra Leone Bike Riders Union, said the ban of bike riding in the central business district was completely unjust.

He said prior to the ban, they had an agreement with Minister of Internal Affairs,   Rtd.  Major Alfred Palo Conteh, the Police and some government officials that limited restrictions be placed on riders instead of a blanket ban.

He cited the 2015 Code of Conduct for bike riders in the country, which according to him states that riders should ply from Up-Gun roundabout to Dan Street, Kissy Road and the hillside, in the eastern axis of the capital.

Sesay argued that bike riders were paying more taxes to the government than street traders, but noted that the police discriminatingly target his members.

He said the blanket ban on riding commercial bikes in the central business district has left many homes in an economic dire straight as most of the riders were breadwinners.

“Most of the police officers only focus on arresting commercial bikes rather than protecting lives and properties. Bike riding in the country has grown up to 75% and the government is not constructing any road for bikes,” he charged.

He called on the Police and government to critically look into the negative effects of the blanket ban on commercial bike riders plying the CBD.

Responding, Acting Regional Officer East, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP)Saidu Kargbo argued that the ban came into force at the right time.

He said government did not ban ‘Okada’ riders from operating, but stopped them from plying the CBD in order to protect lives and properties.

ASP Kargbo maintained that they would continue to enforce the ban up to elections year, in 2018.

Beatrice Kelfala, from the Civil Society Movement-Sierra Leone, said the  high unemployment rate in the country had left many young people with few options, particularly bike riding, and that the lucrative business has been helping many homes, while the government too has been collecting taxes from them.

She therefore called on the government and Police to look into the ban and find a way a flexible way out.

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