Minister indicts SLRTA Boss
The Minister of State, Southern Region, Hon. Muctaru Conteh, has indicted the Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority (SLRTA), Dr. Sarah Finda Bendu (in photo) of inciting the Sierra Leone Motor Driver Union in Bo and the Bike Riders Association (BRA) in Bo against the Passengers Welfare Organization (PAWEL-SL) in Bo.
According to him, he has received information that Dr. Sarah Finda Bendu has incited the members of the Drivers Union and the Bike Riders Association not to allow PAWEL to operate within the streets of Bo.
He added that PAWEL is legally registered and is determined to stop drivers and bike riders from over loading.
He stressed that PAWEL-SL was not out to extort monies from either the drivers, bike riders or passengers but to protect the interests of the passengers in the Southern Region where the Police or Traffic Wardens cannot easily access.
He maintained that Sierra Leone is a democratic country where everyone has right to operate freely within the law and should not be hindered or frustrated.
He apologized to the Deputy Executive Director of PAWEL-SL, Mr. John Sallu Gbla, for the embarrassment they have faced from the drivers and bike riders.
He called on him to make sure that proper sensitizations are done over the radio, television and newspapers about the work of their organization so that they will not be seen as enemies but as a group that is working in their interest.
Hon. Muctaru Conteh noted that ever since Dr. Sarah Finda Bendu was reinstated in 2012 she has messed up the Authority by picking quarrels with senior management staff of the Authority.
He described her as very treacherous and vicious, adding that she will not succeed in dubious activities.
He warned the Local Unit Commander (LUC) of the Bo Police Station, Chief Superintendent of Police, S.R. Marka, to be very professional in the discharge of his duties as his action to suspend PAWEL-SL activities in Bo was very unfair.
He highlighted among other things that some unruly drunkards of the Drivers Union took the law into their own hands and blocked him last week.
He blamed LUC Marka for failing to arrest the striking Okada riders and some members of the Drivers Union as they are not above the law.
“This is what President Ernest Bai Koroma was saying that lawlessness is now the order of the day and that the Police should be very vigilant in maintaining law and order,” he reechoed.
He highlighted a good number of successes of President Koroma’s Government with regards the reconstruction of roads, the free health care scheme and the subsidies to the tuition fees of college and university students.
He lamented that what is frustrating him most is the fact that the opposition SLPP is not seeing anything good that the APC Government is doing, which he said is not good for the country.
He stated that they should commend the Government for its good work, recalling that when they were in the opposition they were not undermining them.
Responding to the Minister, LUC Marka indicated that he suspended PAWEL-SL activities in Bo because the Drivers Union and Bike Riders Association complained that they were not consulted nor informed before they kicked off their operations.
He stated that he was going to inform the Assistant Inspector General of Police, South about the incident after which he would invite all stakeholders to a meeting to explain to them that PAWEL-SL will resume operations.
In his comments, the Deputy Executive Director of PAWEL-SL, Mr. John Sallu Gbla, said he was appalled over the decision of LUC Marka in suspending their operations, because according to him, all stakeholders including the Bike Riders Association and the Drivers Union were invited to a meeting which they refused to attend.
He lamented that his right has been trampled upon by the Police but that he will exercise patience for the one week requested by the Police.
In his remarks, the treasurer of the Drivers Union, Mr. Alpha Bah, told the Minister that PAWEL-SL was now arresting Okada riders riding without helmets, and demanding money from vehicles that were overloading.
According to him, they were not consulted before they took to the streets of Freetown and that they should not operate in parks without their approval.
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