UN Resident Coordinator urges okada riders not to involve in elections violence

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UN Resident Coordinator, Dr Babatunde Ahonsi,addressing bike riders

Recognizing the critical role of commercial Bike Riders in the achievement of sustainable development, United Nations Resident Coordinator (RC), Dr Babatunde Ahonsi last Thursday encouraged them to be agents of peace and conflict prevention, and not to be involved in any form of elections violence during, before and after the polls in June.

Dr Ahonsi made this call in Kambia on the last leg of his two-day joint field trip to UN project sites in four districts – Tonkolili, Bombali, Port Loko, and Kambia.

At a Town Hall engagement held at the Red Cross Hall in Kambia, the RC admonished the bike riders not to share false information or display bitterness towards anyone simply because of the political party that they support or their ethnic background.

He said politics should not be a ‘do-or-die affair’, and that ‘without peace, there can be no sustainable development’. He cautioned that though times are hard for a lot of people because of the impact of external shocks to the economy, they will get worse without peace.

Also, while discussing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the bike riders, the RC thanked them for agreeing to meet with him.  He said they are a resilient group, and with other young people, they represent the country’s biggest asset for achieving the SDGs.

However, he encouraged them to stay away from Kush and other harmful drugs, to ride their bikes with caution to reduce the rate of accidents on the road, to always assist persons with disabilities, not to be involved in sexual violence, and to protect the environment.

Chairman of the Bike Riders Association in Kambia, Mr Osman Sankoh, said they are proud to be riders and for their contribution to all facets of society, including the economy.

“We are the ones that can move Sierra Leone forward, and we will not allow anyone to take us backward,” he said.

He also indicated that ahead of the elections, they will not allow anyone to use and abuse them for selfish gains and that they cannot be sidelined because “we are an important segment of society.”

Before he met with the Bike-Riders, the UN Chief on the same day visited a WFP-supported Homegrown School Feeding Programme at the Holy Cross Primary School and an inland valley farm in Rokupr.

Together with the Resident Representative of UNDP, Dr. Pa Lamin Beyai, Dr Ahonsi also met with borderline community women beneficiaries of a Quick Impact Project to address the shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic on their communities supported by UNDP.

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