Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 July 2019:
Sierra Leone’s railway was a national asset that was stolen from its people. Before Sierra Leone’s national railway was finally shut down in 1975 by the APC government of president Siaka P. Stevens, it passed through 49 train stations – all connected by an overall total of 600-kilometers distance of rail-tracks, divided along three lines.
The first line which connected the Water Street Train Station in Freetown to the Bauya Train Station, passed through 14 other stations at Dove Court, Cline Town, Fisher Lane, Kissi, Wellington, Allen Town, Hastings, Rokel, Waterloo, Newton, Songo, Mabang, Bradford and Rotifunk.
The second line connected Bauya to Maken, passed through 13 stations, that included Malachi, Nwala, Mabinti, Matsuri, Makasi, Mate, Mafuma, off-Yonibana, Masuba, Magbolo, Masang, Magbass, and Magburaka.
The third line connected Bauya to Pendembu passed through 19 other stations at Yoyema, Moyamba, Levuma, Kangahun, Mogbaseke, Mano, Tabe, Kondiama, Bo, Gerihun, Yamandu, Baoma, Blama, Kenema, Hangha, Komende, Segbwema, Daru, and Baima.
All 49 stations were served by two types of trains: The Goods Train (sub divided into the Locomotive and Steam cargo trains) which transported large and heavy consignments of economic commodities such as cocoa, coffee, oil palm, “Banga”, Piassava, among others; and the Passenger Train (sub divided into the Express and Normal passenger trains) which transported people in their thousands every day of the week.
In terms of impact, the Sierra Leone railway company alone employed a minimum of 10,000 Sierra Leoneans at any given time from 1961-1971.
Moreover, the 49 train stations served by the Sierra Leone railway were the engines of economic growth that drove the creation of employment for an estimated 1.5 million rural dwellers out of the country’s estimated 2.5 to 3 million people, during the first decade of independence.
Within that period, agriculture accounted for over 80% of rural employment; and it contributed to 70% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Also, within that same period, the agricultural boom triggered by the transportation services of the railway did not only serve as an “employment creator”, but also served as a “wealth creator”.
Sierra Leoneans not only earned incomes to make ends meet, they actually earned incomes to make wants meet.
The Sierra Leone National Railway was built in 1893 and changed the nature of society.
It enabled the transportation of passengers and goods between the country’s interior and the capital Freetown and its sea port.
At independence in 1961 the railway was well equipped and was a significant employer.
What madness befell our leaders in 1975. That same mentality of – “Ee don ole nar for troway”, still exists in Sierra Leone today – no sense of the importance of heritage and economic value.