While the alarming rate of vehicle accidents on our roads cannot be unconnected to reckless driving and persistent use of derelict vehicles, Platinum Media has discovered that a major cause for the horrific deaths and injuries has been the continued use of improvised iron seats mostly in “poda podas.”
We were unable to access reliable statistics from the traffic division of the Sierra Leone Police but a senior police officer confirmed that many Sierra Leoneans have perished under the thinly covered pieces of iron converted into seats by greedy car owners. The officer however fell short of telling us what his institution has done to prevent more horrible deaths and injuries on passengers.
Sources at Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) said there were initial moves to ban the use of Iron seats. “We were working with the police to arrest these vehicles.. but I cannot explain why that exercise suddenly stopped”, explained a traffic Warden who also asked to remain anonymous.
Mahmoud Dumbuya, a professional welder at Kissy, Eastern Freetown said he has been approached several times by drivers and vehicle owners who would ask him to replace the soft original mini car seats with metal ones. “The vehicles normally come as three-seaters….the welded seats will ensure additional sitting capacity for the poda podas podas and more money for drivers” he maintained.
Platinum reporters visited the Clay Factory Lorry Park yesterday and out of 22 “poda podas” they inspected, 15 had makeshift iron seats in them.
As we call on government to take immediate action on this, It staggers our imagination to learn both the police and SLRSA have failed to remain proactive over a major cause of death and injury for poor Sierra Leoneans on our highways.