Dozens of drivers, who ply the Makeni- Freetown Highway, admitted to have been engaged in syndicated corruption with the Police at various checkpoints.
They testified paying bribe for each trip they embarked on.
Explaining his daily ordeal, Umaru Dumbuya, a mini bus driver who plies the Makeni – Freetown Highway agrees paying bribe to the police at every checkpoint to and from Makeni.
He added that each and every day he has to pay nearly one hundred and twenty thousand Leones bribe to the Police.
“When going to Makeni, begging from Texaco, each and every driver must drop ten thousand Leone to one Inspector and at K-steep, the price varies from thirty thousand to forty thousand Leones per trip,” he alleged.
He explained that a sum of ten thousand Leones is also paid to the Police at Jui and ten thousand Leones at Waterloo for each mini buss driver.
“Also, at “Cam junction,” it is mandatory for all drivers to pay ten thousand Leones to the Traffic Warden and if you reused to pay, they will clampdown your vehicle,” he stated.
Buttressing his claims, Dumbuya said when they arrived at Mile 38, they are also required to pay ten thousand Leones to some OSD officers standing at the checkpoint, and fifteen thousand Leones to the Traffics Police officers.
“We also pay seven thousand Leones to the Police at Lunsar and fifteen Thousand Leones to the Makeni Police in a coordinated and secret manner,” he confessed.
Samuel Kamara, another driver shares similar experience, he informed that a total of 32 registered vans ply the road twice on a daily basis.
He further noted that whether they overload their vehicles or not they must pay those amount and failing which will result to arrest for a crime they could not fathom.
“Close to 50 Taxis including private vehicles that have been transformed into public transportation ply the Makeni road more than we do,” he claimed.
Expressing his displeasure on the bribery, Kamara stated that he has no option but to agree to the practice because it is widely accepted among his colleague and it appears to be a normal and legal act.
“I am not happy at all, because at the end of the day, as a driver I have nothing to take home, to my family. It is like I am doing the job for the police and the vehicle owner,” he regretted.
He attributed the bribery to the reason for the misunderstanding they often had with their masters, arguing that the more challenges they faced on the road, they harder it become for them to pay their masters completely.
He however, agreed that bribery is a crime, but said letting the Police know that they will be prosecuted if they are caught, was necessary. He blamed their union executive of not protecting them.
“The vehicles owners and the Drivers Union are aware of the sharp practice, yet, they still frown at us when we give them incomplete money,” he ended.
For his part, President of the Sierra Leone Drivers Union, Alpha Bah said he is aware of the pressure drivers are under, but urged the public to help report the matter to the Anti-Corruption Commission.
Reacting, head of Communication in the Sierra Leone Police, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Brima Kamara denied the allegations, but however noted that they are aware of one or two incidences in the Traffic Division.
“I cannot vouch that it is not happening, but we are working assiduously to curtail it,” he added. He disagreed that there was a syndicated corruption between the police and the Drivers.