Sierra Leone’s toll road – a shame and a disgrace

Francis Ben Kaifala

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31st August 2017

When I see Sierra Leoneans shamelessly paying toll to Chinese vulture businessmen after being betrayed by our own government, I feel depressed in my quiet university apartment in the United States.

Bai Bureh, an illiterate who did not even have the capacity to understand odious taxing regime, stood up to unfairness to his kind, yet we sit and allow such unfairness to our people.

Lawyers, judges, accountants, engineers, medical doctors, businessmen, various professionals and non-professionals and students who all understand the insult that the toll road is to Sierra Leone, are silent and compliant like sheep to the slaughter.

The picture of Chinese men collecting toll along the only access road to the capital city Freetown by land from everywhere in the Provinces is sickening. Where is our pride?

Every Sierra Leonean paying a toll to visit their families or do business in the provinces, creates a picture in my mind that is worse than seeing every Sierra Leonean hanging from a tree, because we are ready to stand up for something left in us – our pride.

That toll is a symbol of betrayal by our government, loss of our collective pride and a disgrace to our existence.

Bai Bureh, Sengbeh Pieh, Kai Londo, Madam Yoko, Pa Demba, Lamina Sankoh and Wallace Johnson, who all died trying to etch pride on the scrolls of our hearts, must be weeping in their graves for this betrayal of their legacy in allowing neo-imperialism to flourish while we proceed on, business as usual. We have no shame.

It reminds me of the immortal words of Katherine Fitzgerald in her piece “Hope Amidst Hopelessness” of Sierra Leoneans: “Though the ugly and distressing circumstances of their existence occupy the preponderance of their speech, they have, over the centuries, cultivated an alluring and dazzling form of social communication. Their mode of expression is enormously spirited. They are experts at conceptualising and articulating ideas. The breadth of their vocabularies is stunning. Virtually no subject or discipline is unfamiliar or uninteresting to them.”

In a land of mass illiteracy and relentless prose, Sierra Leoneans are brilliant intellectuals and poets.

Sigmund Freud wrote, “Men are strong as long as they represent a strong idea.” However, Sierra Leoneans consistently fail to “represent” — bring forth, realize, implement, display — their ideas. They cannot seem to find their way from the theoretical to the practical.

With all written and said by the public against that toll, it remains a disgrace and everyone who pays to cross it is a shame to our existence. We should resist it by every means necessary.

Editor’s Note

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  1. I can sense the anger and frustration of the writer, but based on my opinion, Sierra Leoneans have a lot of work to do with regard to their self esteem which has been destroyed for decades under the APC government – but was briefly restored under the NPRC.

    And now it’s visible that we have the highest level of inferiority complex – that anything, idea or people foreign is better than ours. We are always under peer pressure to be like anybody else or any other nation but ourselves.

    We must once again try to educate the people about our national heroes who always believed that we are unique; and they did not only survive, but excelled under slavery and colonialism because of their feeling of self-worth and common sense.

  2. A toll road has made sure that Sierra Leone is sold to the Chinese people. Development is very good, but paying toll for the your own existing road is to help increase the wealth in the constructors’ pocket.

    WHAT A SHAME PRESIDENT KOROMA. PEOPLE WHOM YOU CHOSE TO RUN THE COUNTRY ARE BRUTALISING IT WITH IMPUNITY. We all must join shoulder to shoulder to fight this corrupt government, and drive the Chinese out of the country. God bless Sierra Leone and ALL Sierra Leoneans.

  3. Kaifala your write up is good, but to actually blame those paying the toll is unacceptable. How can you resist this ‘by all means possible’?

    You see, Bob Marley says ‘He who feels it knows it’. You are of course ‘feeling depressed in my quiet university apartment in the United States’; and what you dont realise is that those Sierra Leoneans who have to make ends meet by travelling through the toll knows the pain.

    Sierra Leone is a completely different kettle from the West. Our government does things without consultation; and everything they do is in their on interest. The poor 99% has no voice but to tow the line. Some people cannot even have a plate full of rice or foo foo.

    There are no jobs, no good standard of education; and of course to put it blatantly the system has collapsed with no hope of a revival. How are these vulnerable people going to resist paying the charges?

    Let us try by putting the right people to run the affairs of our nation in power, then perhaps we will say no to some idiotic things planted on us.

  4. The nation has to organise a protest / demonstration against this. The whole wide world knows S/Leone is quite a poor country and people cannot afford their day to day daily bread, and yet have a toll to pay added to their transportation problem.

    Shame on Mr. Ernest B. Koroma, is this the legacy our people fought for and bring back APC party to power. I agree with you my brother it’s a damn hell disgrace to all of us at APC.

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