She noted that the campaign will seek to address the challenges faced by blind people in using public transport. ‘Blind people have been suffering in silence for far too long,’ she said. ‘They have been discriminated against because of their disability and this cannot be tolerated.’
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said there have been cases wherein drivers will pick up sighted passengersand leave the blind even though they have fare. She added that the Board will work with the Sierra Leone Motor Drivers Union to come up with a strategy wherein each public transport will allocate a number of seats to disabled passengers. Also, the Board will work with the Motor Drivers Union to sensitize its members across the country.
The planning meeting was meant to ensure the people of Waterloo take ownership of the launch. ‘The Board will be playing a supporting role,’ she said. ‘This means we will be there to complement your efforts in terms of resources including technical support.’Three committees – Working, Publicity and Organizing – were put together. The members of the various committees were drawn from the organizations in attendance.
As part of a regular theme in her community engagements, Ms. Carlton-Hanciles seized the opportunity to call on the people to help decongest the cells and correctional centers by not overburdening the police with civil matters. ‘The police are overburdened with matters you can resolve in the community,’ she said.
Ms. Carlton-Hancilesattributed the justice problems faced by Waterloo to the fact that the area has been neglected in the provision of development assistance for too long. ‘We prioritize Waterloo, that is why we have opened an office in Waterloo and deployed a lawyers to address your justice needs,’ she said.
The Deputy Chair of the Western Area Rural District Council,Ms. Margarete Kargbo said the opening of an office in Waterloo has brought a lot of relief to the community because people do not have to go to the office in the capital Freetown to access the scheme. In addition, accessing justice through the Board Alternative Dispute Resolution service has eliminated the stress associated with going to court. Also, it has helped reduce tensions in homes since men take kindly to matters being brought against them in the Board’s ADR service. She encouraged her audience to settle some of the minor disputes at home rather than take them to the Board.
The Head Man for Waterloo, Denies Omojowo Brown said men should not suffer in silence. He encouraged men to come forward and lodge complaints with the Board. He said he knows of complainantsdeclining to pursue matters in the courts because it is expensive and fraught with delays.
The representative of the Sierra Leone Teachers Union (SLTU) call on the Board to reach out to schools in the Waterloo Community. She noted this will assist with handling difficult pupils, cliques and gangs.
The Youth Representative, Abdul Max Karim condemn the highhandedness of the police towards the bike riders. He said bike riders are being detained unlawfully. He added that those arrested for loitering can walk away free if they offer a bribe, those who cannot afford one are charged to court. He said he knows of complainants who have abandoned cases in the courts because they cannot afford the cost. He called for the establishment of a Victims Support Fund.
The Representative of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), Capt. Forna from the Benguema Military Training Center said they have challenges relating to people encroaching on their land.
The Women’s representative, Ms. Yeama Baba Conteh said women suffer injustice morethan any category of people and therefore need help in addressing their justice problems such as inheritance and those being thrown out of their matrimonial homes. This is despite most homes are run by women.
Similar sentiments were expressed by the representatives of civil society Doris Webber, Traders Council Albert Tarawally, Tribal Heads Chief Pa. Alimamy Bethenben Kamara, Motor Drivers Union Simeon George and the Sierra Leone Police Inspector Abdul James.
The meeting was climaxed with an announcement by the Ms. Carlton-Hancilesof the appointment of Women’s Activist Yeama Baba Conteh as Paralegal and Civil society activist Commander Gibbo as Publicity and Community Officer.