Will Parliament of Sierra Leone prioritize public welfare or CRSG interests in toll gate charges decision?

Mackie M Jalloh: Sierra Leone:16 March 2024:

The recent engagement between the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on works and public assets and various stakeholders regarding proposed toll gate charges in Sierra Leone has shed light on a concerning issue: the potential approval of toll gate increments despite public opposition.

During the gathering, Hon. Bashiru Silikie, the committee chairman, emphasized the importance of gathering public input and asserted Parliament’s responsibility in making informed decisions. However, his remarks hinted at a potential lack of transparency and accountability in the process.

Silikie stated that Parliament would review the proposed charges but emphasized that the executive holds the right to review agreements. This raises questions about Parliament’s true influence in decision-making and whether it serves as a mere rubber stamp for executive actions.

Furthermore, the Chief Executive Officer of the Native Consortium and Research Center, Edmond Abu, expressed concerns over the toll charges, echoing sentiments from civil society organizations and citizens. Abu highlighted the negative impact of the toll charges on citizens’ welfare and called for their removal.

Abu also criticized the construction company, CRSG, for imposing blockages on alternative routes, labeling it a security threat and a violation of the contract terms. His remarks underscore the need for accountability and adherence to contractual agreements by all parties involved.

Additionally, Alpha Amadu Bah, representing the Driver’s Union, pleaded for fair treatment of truck drivers and adjustments to toll charges for vehicles transporting essential goods. His plea reflects the concerns of those directly impacted by the proposed charges and highlights the need for equitable solutions.

In response, Hon. Bashiru Silikie assured that stakeholders’ contributions would inform Parliament’s recommendations. However, his emphasis on overloading as a major challenge raises doubts about whether Parliament truly considers the public’s concerns or prioritizes other interests.

Overall, the engagement exposed Parliament’s dubious game with toll gate charges, revealing potential discrepancies between public interests and decision-making processes. It remains to be seen whether Parliament will prioritize the welfare of its citizens or succumb to external pressures in approving the toll gate increments.


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