As the country continues to fight the Coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic, hundreds of passengers residing in the Western Area Rural District Council (WARDC), especially at Waterloo 555 Junction have urged management of the Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation (SLRTC) to provide bus service for passengers plying the Masiaka to Wellington Toll Gate.
The stranded passengers made this request on Tuesday to this reporter during rush hour, when commercial drivers are deliberately dodging and the queue to line up to collect passengers just because there are no government buses.
According to the stranded passengers, the absence of Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation (SLRTC) buses is posing serious challenge for residents in the entire district, adding that they are always in a rush to get to their various offices in Freetown but that pickpockets always disturb passengers. They said these criminals always use the fence of the Apostolic Church to hide in order tp attack passengers and grab their properties like mobile phones, goods and other valuables.
The aggrieved residents stated that apart from the transport unavailability, the district is still not considered in terms of development apart from the Masiaka to Wellington Toll Gate which has beautified the district somehow but with no feeder roads’ improvement and no electricity supply.
They added that commercial vehicles are not enough to solve the issue of transportation for a population of over five hundred thousand residents, noting that the district is still battling with the virus with huge burden to settle recovery damages.
“The criminals are on the rampage at the 555 Junction, in Waterloo with intension to intimidate and harass passengers, especially women and children. These criminals according to the aggrieved residents include okada riders, commercial poda poda apprentices, among other ‘bad guys’.
They blamed the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), the community authorities and Drivers Union executives for not safeguarding or protecting the interest of commuters but only work in their own self-interest to the detriment of the whole district. They also expressed dismay over the Honorable Member of Parliament for Constituency 106, Hon. Mohamed Kabia for not providing a standard bus halt like other areas in that part of the city.
A driver, Alhaji Jalloh said they are not deliberately calling for half way trips but that it is due to the mad rush for vehicles especially with 9 pm curfew is getting close and vehicles are not enough to transport the people to their respective destinations.
The driver further said that the distance from Waterloo to Freetown is not commensurate to any other parking ground and that they are not exploiting people but helping them due to the absence of government buses.