September 28, 2022

By Allieu Sahid Tunkara

A tricycle carrying three persons including the driver had just summersaulted when a green truck hit a police checkpoint at Mamboreh Junction, east of Freetown.

Both were heading for Waterloo in a fierce speed to escape the curfew.

A crowd of on-lookers and commuters rushed to the tricycle scene of accident apparently to rescue the victims.

No gainsaying that the victims were helpless and badly needed urgent medical attention to save their lives. At the scene, the victims were lucky enough to get a first aid before taken to the hospital for medical attention.

Police officers also rushed to the scene and the tricycle was put back on its wheels, and the police ordered that tricycle be parked at the police station apparently to investigate the cause of accident.

As the Tricycle was on its way to the Calaba Town police station, the truck driver that hit the police checkpoint was also ordered to reverse and park the vehicle.

The police checkpoint at Mamboreh was partially damaged so much that it needed replacement.

It is not clear whether the replacement would be the sole responsibility of the driver or the Sierra Leone police high command.

Almost a week ago, a motor cycle carrying a passenger was knocked down by a vehicle.

The commercial motorist (Okada rider) and the passenger were almost fatally injured as the motor cycle was damaged beyond repairs.

They lay hopeless on the highway until they were picked up by commuters and by-standers, loaded in a vehicle and taken to the hospital for medical examination and treatment.

Only God knows if they would survive as victims’ conditions were critical.

In a related development few days back, a police checkpoint at the main Motor Road Junction was greeted with heavy violence as a driver bulldozed a check point there with impunity.

The driver alighted from his vehicle and threw away the police checkpoint creating an opportunity for other drivers and commercial motorists to go unchecked.

Police chase was not successful owing to their skeletal strength on the ground.

The most active police officer at the checkpoint was Constable Bangura attached to the Operations Support Division, the paramilitary wing of the Sierra Leone police.

Bangura flexed his muscles very hard to get hold of the checkpoint bulldozer, but he could not. He was also subjected to pressure by some commercial motorists at the checkpoint to secure their release.

They threatened to disorder if they were not released. Not too long, stones were pelted at the police officers by some irate youths in the community.

The use of invectives against police officers was commonplace. Law and order crumbled at the checkpoint and no one was safe.

Another rider who approached the checkpoint with two pillions was also arrested, but claimed to be a police officer. He could not support his claim by his failure to produce a police identity card.

A quarrel ensued between him and Bangura worsening an already deteriorating security situation at the checkpoint.

The scale of violence and the trend in which they occurred at the checkpoint indicate that Bangura was no longer in control.

He had no alternative, but to bow to the pressure of the commercial motorists and released all of them just get back security to normalcy at the checkpoint vicinity.

Apart from the incidents at the checkpoint and the accidents on the highway, the stampedes that occur when the clock is striking 9pm being the start of the curfew are worrisome.

The start of the curfew coincides with the rush hour periods in normal times. Little wonder that women and children, the most vulnerable groups are made more vulnerable.

They are at the mercy of thieves, rapists and kidnappers, gangs, cliques, guys on the skid row and the bad guys with the gun.

A mid-aged apparently with her child escaped the curfew by avoiding the main highway and diverted to the Old Road leading to Allen Town.

The lady looked weary, but had to pull and push along rough and rugged terrains with her little daughter who carried the luggage.

“I am tired but I will put up with situation so that I can safely reach home with my daughter. I have nowhere to put up for now, so I must keep on going to escape the curfew,” she said.

No one could tell whether the trek could be successful, but she was determined to reach home at all cost.

It is incontrovertible that women in Sierra Leone today are the sole bread winners of most homes. The decade-long and brutal civil war swept away their husbands leaving the responsibility of the children solely in the hands of women.

Today, they struggle so much to make ends meet. These unfortunate women are not spared by law enforcers when caught by curfew.

In light of such terrible circumstances, the voices of women and children audibly call for the easing of curfew so that their suffering can be eased too.

The call from the women and men of Sierra Leone could be said to be in place, but government may also seek advice and guidance from health professionals at the Emergency operations Centre.

The public anxiously wait to see whether a balance could be struck in easing the curfew restrictions.