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.