In a world where Scud missiles are used in a civil war; where Heads of State can call their compatriots rats, dogs and sons of dogs; where the likes of Boko Haram can suicide bomb a UN Office in broad daylight killing over 18 people and maiming some 300 others; a world where people can openly challenge the existence of God; a world where nature can threaten the number one nation with an imminent hurricane sweetly named Irene, one really wonders if world security can really be ever guaranteed.
How secure can you be in this fast and electronically charged world especially if poverty is the trademark of your own nationhood? Is it not strange that indeed sometimes poverty may not be all that abominable? Yes, when you move around you see a lot of poor people actually happy, playing with their wives and children even when drenched deep in depravity.
I always say that the two places I do not like going are the hospital and the Police. At the hospital you see people suffering first hand, some you know are just waiting to exhale and go to the other side and never to be seen or come back to the world.
This reminds me of some writing in a prominent Doctor’s Surgery which goes like this: Don’t worry, there is no way you can leave this world alive. How too true I find this statement! You have to die first before you leave this world, you do not just disappear like a Tamaboror or Kamajor, or the Organized Body of Hunters. I keep saying that our world is full of ironies and contradictions. This is why some of us choose to be sarcastic and cynical for the most part just so as to squeeze some smile on some screwed face somewhere somehow.
Sometime ago I tried to draw attention to the alarming population currently staying in Freetown. Now if you have to traverse the City from West to East you are in for a big ordeal.
If you take off from say Aberdeen Road-Wilkinson Road junction at 5.30 pm, you will get to Up Gun Round about at 9.30 pm that is if you are very lucky. And you know Up Gun is just in the Middle East of the City. For those proceeding to places like Calabar Town and Strassburg (Allen Town) which I call the Far East, bet your life, they will get home between 9.30 or somewhere around 10.00 pm! Can you imagine all this? But of course you will tell me the traffic situation is no more news. Well nar you sabi dawanday. There is an area in Accra they call Teshie Ningua or so.
It was so notorious for traffic congestion that taxis will not go there after three pm because when they go they will not be able to come back to Accra Central. So it was like at that hour if you went there, you pass the night there, and get back in the morning. Yes I know it is similar in other countries. But the point I am making is that the way the traffic in Freetown is getting reckless needs to be checked and I think with some creativity, it could be done.
Take for example Abacha Street. Traders have virtually taken over that street. Please do not ask me how it all happened. What I know is that something could be done. This City needs some amount of order. But oh yah they will tell me that there is nowhere else for them to go. But tell me where they were before they came to Abacha Street! And you know what the Abacha Ladies have already gained so much popularity, so much so that they have already dedicated songs to them. There is another angle and that is making Abacha Street One-way. I think this seems to have legitimized the occupation of that street by traders of all sorts and sizes. Now if Sani Abacha Street is made one-way, all the idle vehicles idly parked around will disappear. Also the hawkers will move back.
Another vexing issue is the proliferation of motor bikes. I mean commercial motor bikes plying the streets of Freetown bruising everything they find in their way. Do not get me wrong…I mean the number of Okadas already registered to operate in the City is just too much and this is telling on the traffic situation.
If you walk around Freetown one thing you will notice is the absence of Zebra crossing points in some parts of the City, even in the Central business District.
The ones remaining are hardly observed by motorists, even some private my car ones. You could witness pedestrians almost getting knocked down right in the middle of the Zebra. It also appears nobody really cares. Just some two weeks ago I witnessed a physically challenged ageing man almost hit by a speeding car right in front of the CID Headquarters. The vehicle which looked like a delivery van, colored white, moved on towards the Cotton Tree with careless oblivion.
The question is, has a pedestrian no longer has any right of way? When you check out the Road traffic Act 2007. Foot path is interpreted to mean: a way over which the pubic has a right of way on foot or pedestrian walk way. I really think that this issue of the public’s right of way should be looked into urgently, because in Freetown today the pedestrian’s right of way has been taken over by hawkers of all sorts and shades. There should be a synergetic cooperation between the Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority and the Traffic Section of the Sierra Leone Police and the Metropolitan Police and Wardens in order to bring some sanity to the current madness of a grossly delinquent traffic situation of a highly traffic security volatile City.
These days many motorists do not observe the Zebra crossing which makes life very difficult for pedestrians. It is just that our traffic is not as fast as in a City like Nairobi otherwise we could be unfortunately having uncountable accidents. There was a time in this city when any vehicle’s tires touch the zebra crossing lines. Police will levy a fine or charge her to court.
Today motorists park right on the Zebra crossing. Indeed things have changed so much in this City. Well we have the dog continuing to wag the dog. There is this story about a hunter who for a very long time could not kill even a squirrel.
He came to Freetown to buy cartridges and he was told to cross at the Zebra crossing. That evening, he got his gun loaded to the teeth. When it was getting dark, he went and hid in the grass near the Zebra crossing in an ambush. No sooner a dog was passing; the hunter fired a shot but missed.
The gun shot alarmed people and the Police arrested him. When asked why he said he hid to wait for the Zebra that will come to use their crossing point. People were shocked but of course that was the truth, he had thought the Zebra really meant the animal.
So my dear motorists please do not shoot the humans who try to cross at the Zebra crossing. Let the Freetown City Council help to put or repaint the Zebra crossings all over the City.