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‘Issuing of licenses is no longer business as usual’ – SLRSA Director

‘Issuing of licenses is no longer business as usual’ – SLRSA Director

The Director of the License Department at the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA), Ibrahim Sagbah, said on 21st July 2015 at the round table conference on the use of unlicensed and uninsured vehicles and motorcycles organized by the Road For Development–Sierra Leone (R4D-SL), a Civil Society Road Watch Consortium that the rate of accidents in the country is high, one of the reasons for the transformation of the Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority (SLRTA) to the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) on 17th December, 2014 to enhance and promote road safety. (Photo: Road stakeholders at the conference)

He also underscored at the event held at the Child Welfare Society Conference Hall, 140 Circular Road in Freetown, that the high accident rate in the country has claimed and incapacitated several precious lives reiterating that drivers and commercial bike riders are stakeholders and partners in the development of the Authority and the country informing that road funds are derived from licenses and other road charges and continued that they are mandated to prevent unlicensed vehicles and drivers from plying the streets for which they have simplified the issuance of licenses and other documents.

He cautioned, “the process of issuing licenses is no longer business as usual wherein drivers and vehicle owners sit at home to receive their licenses. Driving without a license and driving an unlicensed vehicle is a serious crime. Furthermore, the Authority is on a rebranding process and deploying its personnel nationwide to enforce road safety regulations for which I am appealing to all to adhere to the Authority’s best practices.”

He said the SLRSA Executive Director, Dr. Sarah Bendu is working tirelessly to promote road safety but lamented that some drivers are plying Waterloo, Tombo, Masiaka and other areas without licenses and driving unlicensed vehicles for which the Authority is working hard to incorporate insurance companies to crackdown on them.

Director Sagbah further stated that Traffic Wardens are responsible to enforce the rules and regulations of the Authority affirming, “the Authority and Government are losing revenue through unlicensed vehicles which is a serious threat to the security of the state” and called on stakeholders, especially the Sierra Leone Police, which the Authority is complementing, to seriously enforce and arrest unlicensed vehicles.

R4D-SL National Coordinator, Philip P. Lansana disclosed that the conference was to critically look at the road as a catalyst for national development, the safety of citizens, discuss and agree on an action plan to address the issues, especially how to increase revenue in the road sector and protect citizens from disasters as a result of traveling onboard unlicensed and uninsured vehicles.

He also intimated that the R4D–SL was established to contribute to safer and well-maintained road infrastructures for the people of Sierra Leone to live in dignity and access to basic opportunities and facilities.

Philip P. Lansana further stated that the organization has observed the rampant use of unlicensed and uninsured vehicles and motorbikes in the country which he attributed to the increase in accidents resulting to injuries and premature deaths.

He continued that unlicensed and uninsured vehicles and motorbikes are often overloaded; go through checkpoints daily unchecked and cover long distances mainly in the provinces and rural areas which is a major threat to the revenue drive of the agencies concerned, security of the country and risks to citizens.

The R4D-SL National Coordinator went on to state that partnership and cooperation is urgently required to discuss and address the menace as the country is in dire need of revenue to embark on its Post-Ebola Recovery Plan and continuation of the implementation of the Agenda for Prosperity.

Chief Superintendent of Police and Acting Director of Traffic Management on Road Safety, Gibril Kabba-Kamara said that his Department is responsible for road safety and that SLRSA was created to complement the efforts of the Traffic Police while issuance of vehicle and driver’s licenses is the mandate of SLRSA and vehicle insurance companies, that the duty of the traffic police is to enforce rules and regulations at all times by checking vehicles and motorbikes for valid licenses.

CSP Gibril Kabba-Kamara continued that the Department is concerned about the safety use of the road as its major goal is to reduce fatalities in line with the United Nations Decade of Action 2015 but observed a significant drop in fatalities between 2011 and 2014 with few recorded cases between January -June 2015.

He further stated that the traffic police, like other policemen, are aware of his paramount duty of saving lives and property for which they formulated an operational order effective Monday 13th July, 2015 bringing onboard road safety partners to work alongside the traffic police nationwide.

National Revenue Authority (NRA) Assistant Commissioner of the Customs and Excise Department, Lizbal Heroe disclosed that the department deals with vehicles on two fronts-those imported by sea and those that cross the land borders.

She asserted that SLRSA should not license vehicles without the NRA license slips observing that in Sierra Leone, the international mandate is to issue a Temporary Admission Certificate known as the C59 with a maximum validity period of ninety days that could be renewed based on adequate and valid reasons subject to approval and that when expired, the vehicle cannot ply the streets otherwise it would be impounded, valued, forced to pay taxes and the owner also fined.

Lizbal Heroe further enlightened that in the case of a haulage vehicle, a penalty would be levied and the vehicle escorted by Customs officials to the border post where it would be licensed.

She reiterated that to combat revenue loss on such vehicles, the Anti-Smuggling Unit of the NRA has been rigorously engaged in random searches on the validity of such vehicles.

The ceremony was chaired by Charles Mambu, Chairman of the Health for All Coalition.

By Abdul R. Bedor Kamara

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