As Police Crackdown on Unlicensed Motorbikes NRA May Be Exposed
The Traffic Wing of the Sierra Leone Police will crackdown heavily on motorbike riders who deliberately violate the country’s traffic rules-plying with unaccustomed and unlicensed motorbikes.
The operation will commence Monday, April 16th 2018 in Makeni, northeast of Sierra Leone, not less than one-hundred and fifty kilometers from the capital of Freetown, where the Divisional Traffic Officer (DTO) at Rogbane Police Division, Assistant Superintendent of Police-Barry, suspects what he calls the astronomic increase in the reckless use of unlicensed motorbikes within and around the municipality of Makeni as a result of the recently concluded political activities including campaigns and public sensitization.
ASP Barry says the operation will be uncompromised in a bid to minimize lawlessness and indiscipline, suggesting it will last for as long as it takes him and his men to curbing a menace that does not stop at undermining state revenue mobilization, but one that extensively wreaks havoc on unsuspecting pedestrians and other road users including women and children and the aged.
According to his observation, the unlawful use of unlicensed motorbikes in the municipality is notorious in the evening than early hours of the day, “and when intercepted, riders would fearlessly show all kinds of slips from either Bike Dealers or whichever office; for excuse from the offence…but in line with our duty and responsibility, I always implore my men that we impound such motorbikes and charge the rider (s) to court, until they get to pay what dues the state, before a motorbike is released therefrom”, the DTO maintains.
The concern of Sergeant Gibrilla Bundu, a Traffic Police Officer attached at the Rogbane Police division goes beyond the recent influx of unlicensed motorbikes; to the riders’ less use of protective crash helmets, possession of rider’s license; dress code and the all-time observation and adherence to the laid down traffic rules, regulations and signs despite the unremitting court charges pressed on them.
For their comments on the police crackdown, senior members of the Sierra Leone Commercial Motorbike Riders Union could not be reached as we went to press, while a couple of motorbike riders confirmed with the press that they notoriously ply with unlicensed motorbikes. In few riders’ accounts: “Very often, when we go to buy motorbikes from the shops, the dealers and particularly retailers do not issue us with the necessary ‘Customs Excise documents’. Instead, they would ask us to retain the bikes in our homes for a period of not less than two weeks; and sometimes, over a month-until after they (Dealers) would have gotten the ‘Customs Excise documents’ from officers of the National Revenue Authority (NRA) at the Queen Elizabeth Quay in Freetown”.
Some riders also allege that they suffer a lot from what they refer to as the reluctance of the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) to registering their bikes without customs documents. “This is exactly where we usually fall victim in the hands of the police and the Road Safety Corpse because we cannot afford to keep our new but unlicensed motorbikes in our homes insofar the monies we spend to buy them are from microcredit loans that are bound to be paid for, immediately with effect from the date of loan. When contacted, the Road Safety boss for Bombali district- Augustine Kai Tonji affirms there is no way a motorbike can be registered without a certified Customs Excise document. He assures that any unlicensed motorbike found plying the road would be impounded until proper documentation is done.
Meanwhile, some unanimous motorbike dealers and retailers in some parts of Sierra Leone have not denied the riders’ allegations, but squarely heap the blame on officers of NRA for delaying the documentation process right from the day of making the necessary tax payment for the clearing and forwarding of the container (s). In addition, one LMT-a staff working under the Customs and Excise department at NRA in Makeni, confirmed the allegations made by the riders and dealers and retailers as true.
Though he stands to be highly accused by the riders for always impounding their unlicensed motorbikes, LMT still maintains that the problem of untimely issuance of ‘Customs Excise documents’ to mainly the importers of motorbikes has always been I coming from the offices in Freetown and not branch offices. In essence, the importers and retailers of motorbikes and riders have been compelled to suffering from the lethargy and mal administration of the NRA situated at the Quay in Freetown. “And should the police and Road Safety Corpse continue to confiscate unaccustomed and unlicensed motorbikes across the country, importers and dealers of motorbikes plus buyers/riders will continue to run at a loss while the NRA is sure to be exposed”, a senior citizen foresees an outcome in the new dispensation.
By Alie Mozart Sesay
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