The Attitudinal and Behavioral Change message that has been spread by the government, seems to have fallen on deaf ears in some quarters, as in the case with some drivers of the Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation (SLRTC), where it has been alleged that they are, to a large extent, responsible for the wreckage of the corporation’s buses.
The Administrative Office of SLRTC, which also serves as the corporation’s vehicle depot, (owing to its colonial design), is presently a grave yard of buses as a result of the fact that when these buses have been wrecked, the office does not have a mechanical and services unit, where they could be parked for further action.
In a discussion yesterday at his office at SLRTC, the General Manager, Bockarie Lewis Kamara explained that apart from the impediment in purchasing some vital spare parts for the wrecked buses, among the over sixty drivers employed by the corporation, he alleged that some of them are reportedly indulged in the habit of overloading the vehicles and using contaminated fuel and oil to fill the buses’ engines.
He cited instances in which some of these bad eggs among the crop of drivers have been caught on the act of either overloading the buses or using contaminated fuel and oil to fill their tanks.
He said that members of the public and even those of the corporation’s Board have reported such cases to them of drivers mishandling buses mostly on the highway. He mentioned that such attitude of those on the act does not reflect the President’s message on Attitudinal and Behavioural Change, especially when they are committed on the basis that the buses belong to the government.
He urged the drivers of the buses and the general public to take ownership of the buses, which, he said, are meant to reasonably serve the transportation need of the public.
The GM was reacting to an allegation raised by a concerned member of the public, that certain bus drivers are in the habit of overloading and treating the buses with utmost recklessness to the annoyance of members of the public.
Most times, he said, when Management receives reports of drivers manhandling the buses, the culprits are sacked instantly, adding that because of this action, cases of spare part theft and other abhorrent practices allegedly perpetrated by drivers have been drastically minimized at the corporation.
The GM observed that some of these wicked and unpatriotic drivers who are sacked upon their criminal acts, are the ones who go out and spread bad rumours about alleged bad practices in the corporation.
The GM further revealed that for buses such as those that were brought in as donation from the Libyan Government (Ghadaffi Bus), the corporation has found it difficult to get their spare parts, simply because, when they were brought in, there was no maintenance manual attached to them.
Moreover, he revealed, the buses have Mercedes Benz engine, which, he said, is expensive to repair, as it will involve something around $40,000 dollars, which, he further noted, the corporation will rather prefer buying new ones rather than relying on their repairs, especially when the average lifespan of a bus exceeds not more than four years.
The General Manager said that since his assumption of office, he has come to the realization that much is being used on the maintenance and repair of the buses, for which reason, he noted, Management through the advice of the Board and the Transport Ministry, decided to contract the Indian bus factory; the Ashok Leyland, to manufacture buses that are durable, whose spare parts could be easily accessible.
He said that the idea resulted in the importation of forty (40) buses earlier this year.
He claimed that the manufacturing company of the Ashok Leyland buses ensured that the parts of the buses could not be fitted on any other engine, which, he further alleged, makes it difficult for them to be stolen and sold, as it was the case in the past.
However, in a bid to further address the transport crisis, the GM revealed that the corporation, through the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, will soon purchase fifty more buses to add to the existing ones.