Drivers and passengers who usually ply Kambia district are at high risk of accident.
Due to the police extortion drivers are often faced with, by police at checkpoints in Kambia, they overload with impunity.
The drivers alleged that they have to book with the police before the day’s job.
A taxi driver named Jalloh, alleged that it is a custom everyday to pay the sum of seven thousand Leone (Le7000) for taxis, five thousand Leone for poda poda (Le5000) and two thousand (Le2000) for Okada drivers.
He explained that because of this drivers have no option but to overload with a total of eight passengers; three in the front seat and five at the back.
This is a strange thing commented a guy who has just been in that part of the country for the first time “this is a real cause of danger for people plying this route.”
These taxis are not good enough and the drivers don’t have the time to do proper maintenance but the police do not check all these faults.
Their main concern is to get the day’s booking from drivers.
Jalloh further disclosed that if you refuse to pay on a particular day the Police will harass you until you pay after that they don’t care whatever happens to you or your vehicle.
Questioned whether they receive a receipt for this money, and if they are told by the police officers the purpose of the money?.
Jalloh asked “what is receipt? We have never been told the purpose of the money and we too don’t have time to ask what they are doing with it.”
The police officers don’t have the time for smuggled goods especially food stuff from Kambia right to Guinea.
A police officer who is stationed at the Kambia district, who preferred anonymity said that the situation at the district is forcing them to do what they are doing as they have no other means of livelihood.
He said that because of this they are aware that smuggling does take place since they don’t have time to check vehicles plying the route.
He said that they are also faced with constraints because whatever they do have effect on them and their families as a whole but they have no option as they are forced by the situation.
This same scenario prevails in Port Loko, Kabala and other parts of the Northern Region but this is more rampant in Kambia as most of the rice produced there is taken to Guinea due to the selfishness of the police officers stationed at the area.
Traders are also faced with a lot of problem as they have to pay money at every check point so they too have no option but to inflate the prices of their goods when they get to the market.
The traders also said that they suffer a lot if they travel with their goods to Freetown whereas it is less and shorter when they take them to neighbouring Guinea.
By Betty Milton & Ophaniel Gooding