Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 November 2019:
The government of Sierra Leone in collaboration with the World Bank, today launched the Integrated and Resilient Urban Mobility Project, supported by a US$50 million grant to improve access and quality of public transport, address climate resilience and road safety in selected areas in the Western Area, as well as enhancing institutional capacity across the transport sector.
The project offers an integrated approach in responding to the challenges faced by the urban transport sector, as Greater Freetown is now at a turning point to become an engine for transformation of the country.
According to a statement published by the World Bank today, the project aims to foster changes in the way the city is growing: from a congested, vehicle-oriented city to a resilient, people-oriented city, where walking and public transport are at the core of the metropolitan vision, and with a focus on vulnerable groups – such as low-income residents, women and people with disabilities.
“This project will help reduce barriers, particularly for the poor and most vulnerable who depend on transport and walking, to accessing jobs and services in a safe and clean environment,” said Gayle Martin, World Bank Country Manager for Sierra Leone (Photo).
“It also presents an opportunity to support the government’s vision in terms of economic diversification and competitiveness, resilience, and human capital acceleration, which are aligned with the country’s National Development Plan,” Gayle Martin said.
The project will benefit Western Area residents, businesses, government and academic institutions, including the Fourah Bay College – University of Sierra Leone, through the integration of its civil engineering school with the Africa Center for Excellence program, and partnership with the Centre of Excellence in Transport in Kumasi, Ghana.
It also supports the government’s ‘Access to Schools’ program to provide transport access to educational centers.
The direct beneficiaries are estimated at over 75,000 daily users of public transport (nearly 40 percent of whom are women), over 100,000 pedestrians with safer pedestrian facilities, and over 50,000 daily beneficiaries of improved resilient roads.
The financing will support the establishment of a bus renewal scheme to encourage private-sector operators; technical assistance to strengthen the capacity of the Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation (SLRTC) to regulate public transport and to support the private sector in the provision of formal, regulated transport service along selected corridors.
It will aid capacity building and training for transport operators and drivers on safe driving; civil works, goods and services for ancillary facilities to promote the efficient use of the bus fleet, particularly focused on an integrated ticketing system, a bus management system, a control center, a bus information system, the construction of bus stops, bus priority measures, terminal and depot facilities.
Sierra Leone has a tropical climate with a rainy season from May to October and a dry season from November to April. Mean annual rainfall for the entire country is around 2,500 mm, the eleventh highest in the world and the second highest in Africa.
Coastal and southern areas, including the Western Area, experience severe rainfall patterns with annual precipitation between 3,000 and 5,000 mm per year, peaking to more than 800 mm of rainfall monthly in July and August.
These torrential storms often disrupt communications and transportation nationwide, damage homes and agricultural production, and cause erosion. (Photo above: Destruction caused by heavy rains in Freetown).
“The project will contribute towards building resilience to climate change. Communities’ resilience will be enhanced by providing a more robust mobility system during rain and flood events. Based on the risk assessment, the project designs also incorporate climate adaptation considerations to enhance the project’s resilience,” said Fatima Arroyo Arroyo, World Bank Urban Transport Specialist and Task Team Leader.
The project is aligned with the World Bank Africa Strategy, and integrates four innovative areas of focus that are aligned with the recently approved Africa Strategy: (i) strengthening human capital in government, academia and by empowering women; (ii) digital moonshot transformation –leapfrogging by using innovative technologies for mobility and logistics; (iii) creating sustainable and inclusive growth by maximizing private-sector transformation; and (iv) building resilience to climate change by mainstreaming climate resilience throughout the project life cycle.