Chairman of Freetown Bus Company calls for partners and stakeholders to publicly clarify roles and responsibilities  

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 February 2024:

Following days of accusations and counter- accusations among stakeholders and shareholders of the Freetown Bus Service known as ‘Waka Fine’, including government ministers, after the chaotic and disorganized launching of the service last week, the public is now demanding answers.

The government of Sierra Leone is being accused of grand corruption, incompetence, and gross mismanagement of the entire project management process, commencing with the award of contracts to its politically driven decision to launch the service without due regard to the lack of proper planning and buy-in from poda-poda and keke drivers, as well as bike riders.

It is clear from investigations carried out by the Sierra Leone Telegraph that the Business Model for the newly launched bus service was muddled and lacked any form of partnership agreement signed by the partners and stakeholders.

Chairman of the Bus Service Company (Metro Transport Company SL Ltd) – Mr Victor Ako Mengot, says that there should now be clear public statement of roles and responsibilities of the state and non-state actors that are involved in the planning, management and operations of the Waka Fine bus service so that the public can understand some of the key deciisons that were made, by whom and when.

This is what he said: “There are four main parties to the operations of the Wakafine buses:

  • Ministry of Transport IRUMP Project Implementation Unit – responsible for regulation, traffic management, and dissemination of information to stakeholders/passengers and management and disbursement of the $50 million World Bank grant
  • The newly established Sierra Leone Public Transport Authority is replacing the Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation. They are the regulator responsible for granting of route/ operator licences to all public transport operators (okada, kekeh, taxis, poda poda, and buses); setting of fares and advising the government on transport and urban planning issues. They also work with the enforcement agencies, i.e. SLP; SLRSA Traffic Corps; and FCC’s Metropolitan Police to manage traffic along major public transport corridors.
  • Metro Transport Company SL Ltd – Bus management and operation under a contractual arrangement with the Sierra Leone Public Transport Authority
  • Prunedge – fares, management of sales agents, and revenue collection

“These roles and responsibilities should be made clear to all Sierra Leoneans. The four parties should develop a joint communications strategy. Moreover, there should be a chain of command and proper line of communication, especially with the public, and more importantly, enhanced system of collaboration.

“The four parties should agree to explain their roles in a special program in one of the National TV stations that will create the opportunity for citizens to probe their stewardship of the project and implementation strategy.”

You can listen below to a conversation between the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, Motor Drivers Union, Kekeh Union, and a Community Outreach Specialist on Radio Democracy 98.1FM about the planning and management of the Waka Fine buses.

1 Comment

  1. ” Those who live in glass houses should not first throw stones”. My opinion about the waka fine bus transportation is as thus:
    Firstly, government want to take up its responsibility to provide affordable transport system for its citizens. This is to alleviate the fear and insecurity posed by drivers Union each time they go on strikes. When drivers union transport system is put on halt, it plunges the whole country into chaos while living citizens with no option but to pose blame on government. Both government functionaries and non-government functionaries goes on standstill. Least to talk about public and private businesses. We sometimes feel the heat despite our indifferences.
    Secondly, the buses are clean,neat, but doesn’t meet the European standards yet as city buses. This is likely because of the anxiety over the operations of the buses or it is insufficient to accommodate the population density. However, this can be a learning stage as we are yet a developing nation.
    Thirdly, gratitude is really envisaged from the looks of the masses compared to the few who are still objecting the service of the waka fine buses. For fifteen years I have been doing research on the movement of transports in Freetown. For each day, at 4pm I will stand at the eastern police junction in the eastern part of Freetown observing people as they walk on foot from the junction up to Upgun turn-table and even beyond just to get public transport(poda, keke or bus) to take them home. At pick hours, the drivers will just decide to run halfway causing the citizens to sometimes pay two way or three way fares to reach to their respective destinations. At some point, even when you have money to pay, you can’t have access to these public transports. Such situation will have to force someone to walk on foot on a long distance before eventually getting either transport or reaching their destinations. At regent road park, in the central part of the city, people have to scramble to get public transport. Sometimes at pick hours, drivers will just decide to run halfway stopping at Aberdeen road or smart farm in the west end of Freetown and then make a u-turn. Even though the destination is called for Lumley.
    Last but not least, the waka fine buses I have traveled in have always moved in an orderly manner. Therefore in conclusion, having compared the merits of this bus service against its demerits, I will encourage all those who have endured the pains in the past not to be quick to object these services rendered by the waka fine buses.

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