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‘Ban on right hand-drive vehicles effective 1st Sept. 2014’

‘Ban on right hand-drive vehicles effective 1st Sept. 2014’

The Public Relations Officer of the Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority (SLRTA), Abdul Karim Dumbuya has revealed that in collaboration with partners in the road sector, the Authority in November 2013 launched its Road Safety Policy, Strategy and Trust Fund in the country which effort was seen by many as a very important step in promoting an accident-free Sierra Leone with special focus on child safety.

Abdul Karim Dumbuya reminded drivers and vehicle owners that effective 1st September this year, no right- hand drive vehicle would be allowed to ply the streets of the entire country when the one-year grace period would have ended.

He revealed that right-hand drive vehicles are responsible for between 70% to 80% of road crashes in the country leading to earlier deaths, increased disabilities and orphans that have socio-economic impact on the development of the country adding, “road safety should be everybody’s concern as each life lost is a loss to the nation.”

The Public Relations Officer continued that globally, 1.3 million people die yearly in traffic-related accidents and another 20-50 million people are injured mainly in developing countries worldwide, a figure that would continue to rise.

He went on to enlighten that fatality figures in 2013 show that 238 persons died in road crashes while those seriously injured that would result to permanent disability were 1032 and continued that these crashes and deaths regrettably translate into far larger consequences of loss of productivity, damage to property; increase in medical cost and in some cases life-long disabilities leading to an increase in the dependency burden and ultimately poverty.

Abdul Karim Dumbuya went on, “it is estimated that as many as 1,323 lives were lost in road accidents in Sierra Leone in 2013. The Executive Director of SLRTA, Dr. Sarah Bendu has been very instrumental in formulating the Road Safety Policy and working hard to keep the roads free from accidents thus saving precious lives.”

He underscored that Dr. Sarah Bendu holds the view that road safety is a public health concern that must be treated like any other health issue maintaining, “road fatalities in Sierra Leone are on the increase and we must do something about it to reduce the loss of lives and drain on our economy.”  She described the event as “a demonstration of motherhood,” particularly for children reiterating, “road safety is a global concern. Together, we can save lives. We have taken road safety campaigns to schools and other communities through sanitization as well as established Youth Safety Clubs in Freetown, Bo, Kenema and Makeni with more to be established in other parts of the country.”

The SLRTA Director further disclosed that the Authority has also brought Members of Parliament onboard the road safety campaign and called on religious leaders to help in that direction.

Furthermore, SLRTA has appealed to the Minister of Education to include road safety education in the school curriculum that has received the attention of the Committee.

“The safety of our roads and the wellbeing of motorists, including our vulnerable children, are the collective responsibility of all patriotic Sierra Leoneans. Together we can save lives,” she concluded.

By Abdul R. Bedor

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