November 4, 2016 By Andrew Ngebuva (Intern)
In the wake of government’s plans to remove subsidy on fuel, Minister of Transport and Aviation, Leonard Balogun Koroma, yesterday urged all transport owners and drivers to maintain the current transport fare.
The minister was speaking at the Miatta Conference Hall ,Youyi Building, in Freetown, during a meeting that attracted stakeholders from the transport sector, civil society organizations, journalists, minister of trade, and members from the National Petroleum Unit to discuss and finalise agreement on the removal of subsidy on fuel.
Balogun said government has plan to remove subsidy on petroleum products as the economy of the country continues to get tougher, adding they used to spend six hundred million Leones weekly on fuel subsidy.
“I am pleading to transport owners to maintain the current transport fare. We are in an economic crisis which is not our making. We are fighting to stabilize the economy, which is why we are removing the subsidy so that the monies can be used to develop other sectors,” he said.
He noted that because of the current economic crisis in the country, the money used on fuel subsidy would be directed to other sectors, thus encouraging transport owners to reason with the government.
He maintained that the dreaded Ebola outbreak in the country and the fall in the price of iron ore in the international market crippled the economy.
However, president of the Sierra Leone Drivers Union, Alpha Amadu Bah, said they would work with the government’s austerity measures, but expressed frustrations over the manner in which police were demanding monies from drivers on a daily basis.
“If only the government can ensure that drivers are not harassed by police officers, none would make an exorbitant increment on transportation fare,” he said.