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To stem new Ebola infections…

Taxis and poda-podas to reduce passengers

September 1, 2014 By Patrick J. Kamara

The Ministry of Transport and Aviation, in collaboration with Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority (SLRTA), the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), Attitudinal and Behavioral Change (ABC) Secretariat and the Motor Drivers Union, has in a joint press release resolved that starting today (1 September), all taxis should carry three passengers and mini-buses (poda-podas) to reduce one passenger per row.

According to the release dated 29 August, 2014, the above measures are meant to complement government’s efforts to eradicate the Ebola disease which has killed more than 300 people in the country. Transport owners are also to sacrifice 25% payment of rental fees, while mini-buses are to comply with overloading rules, with private vehicles being no exception, the release said.

Given the unabated loss of lives due to the Ebola outbreak in the country, the stakeholders agreed to enforce strict compliance of the new rules on overloading both for commercial and private vehicles.

The release also stated that the measures will be in effect until the end of the public emergency, which was proclaimed on 23 July by President Ernest Bai Koroma as part of a comprehensive Ebola Response Plan.

The stakeholders urged motorists to fully adhere to the new rules, which they hope will help minimize direct contact between individuals; one of preventive measures to eradicate new Ebola virus infections.

Also, National Traffic Coordinator, Superintendent Ambrose M. Sovula, said traffic police officers would be committed to arresting drivers who contravene the new regulations.

Meanwhile, President of Sierra Leone Drivers Union, Alpha A. Bah, told journalists that he had pleaded with the authorities to give them a two-week grace period to enable them speak to their members, but his plea was rejected.

He opined that the decision would have a huge impact on the transport sector as vehicle owners might prefer to “park their vehicles” instead of complying with the rules. He noted that government would have as well reduced the prices of fuel before announcing the new rules.

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