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Heartless Toll Hike…

The arrangement surrounding the Wellington- Masiska Toll Road between the Chinese and successive governments leaves much to be desired. There seems to a a calculated conspiracy by the government and the Chinese Company against the citizenry.
It could be recalled that the Parliament of Sierra Leone adopted the introduction of toll/pay system on the Wellington-Masiaka stretch because of huge funding gap in the construction proposal on the part of the Government of Sierra Leone.
The Chinese (CRSG) company accepted the proposal of sole sourcing on condition that after a certain stretch of kilometers, they would introduce the roll system to cushion the operational cost as they continued work on the remaining stretch.
Three gates were erected which was not in the public interest. There was no public awareness on the essence of the project and why three gates instead of only one.
Government deceptively provided an alternative road (bypassing only the Hastings tollgate) but they never paid attention to improving on that alternative route. It therefore, practically became compulsory for every vehicle and machinery entering and leaving Freetown to pay at the gates. The one most frequently paid to is the Hastings Toll Gate. Light vans, jeeps and cars are more active on the Freetown-Waterloo stretch.
Further to that, it is nearly eleven years now since its introduction; which means thousands or millions of dollars might have by now been accrued from the toll pay proceeds to help in the work but the second phase of the road work remains unstarted. The work is still where it was when the gates were erected!
The work is not only engineeringly poor, but the number of kilometers completed remains far below expectation. In other words, the Chinese are merely collecting the toll monies without any progress in the road work.
According to the agreement, the toll fee collection is to last for around 25 and 27 years to enable a pay back of cost in the entire construction work from Wellington to Masiaka.
But nearly eleven years into the contract, the road remains unfinished, yet they continue collecting!
As usual, it is dusted to the parliamentarians once they (the House Leadership and Road Committee) are receiving their regular brown-envps. Don’t leave the Works Ministry out!
So with that, no government official has ever raised concern over the status of the work.
It will now have to take a fuel Bowser Le. 700.00 to go through Masiaka; and a trailer a whopping Le.2,100.00!
Why is the continued payment of toll when road work does not seem to be in progress is anybody’s guess.
Our worry as citizens is not whether the increase has the nod of the House of Parliament or not, but its negative toll on prices of commodities.
Yes, it may not be too much for the light vans and jeeps, but the heavy lorries carrying goods will surely feel the pinch, which in turn will allow for increase in transportation cost, hence reflecting on prices of goods and services, especially foodstuffs.
The increase is very outrageous for trailers and tankers that daily ply with much needed goods on the highway.
Government needs to understand this and enter into an engagement with the Chinese and transporters to review the increase. We should not be paying exorbitantly for a service not rendered. If I may want parliament to come in, our wish is to let them stamp their feet on a favourable review.

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