The Sierra Leone Police Bo East Division, in conjunction with the Local Police Partnership Board (LPPB), convened a crucial meeting with drivers on Friday to address the alarming rise in accidents involving tipper trucks in the southern region.

The session aimed to devise effective solutions to this pressing issue under the theme “You Own a Car, Not the Road.”

Bringing together stakeholders from diverse organizations, the meeting focused on discussing strategies to mitigate accidents in the Bo district. Salu Bah, chairman of the Tipper Drivers’ Union, acknowledged that negligence among tipper truck drivers has been a significant contributing factor to many accidents. He underscored the importance of adhering to safety regulations and highlighted the Union’s ongoing efforts to educate drivers on safe practices.

During the meeting, one driver emphasized the perilous consequences of reckless driving, asserting that “speed” is a swift path to death for irresponsible drivers. This sentiment underscored the urgent need for a shift towards safer driving behaviors.

The discussions also shed light on the concerning correlation between accidents and substance abuse among drivers. Mohamed Kabba Conteh, District Traffic Officer (DTO) from the Bo East Police Division, shared alarming statistics, revealing that tipper trucks were responsible for a significant portion of fatal accidents in the district. In 2023 alone, 20 fatalities were recorded, with 8 attributed to tipper truck accidents. The situation remains dire in 2024, with 18 deaths and 15 tipper truck accidents reported thus far.

Conteh also highlighted the challenges posed by okada (motorbike taxi) riders, criticizing their slogan, “When you touch one, you touch all,” for promoting negative behavior. He urged them to adopt a slogan that prioritizes safety and positive conduct, citing instances where confrontations with okada riders escalated, resulting in further harm to individuals and property before police intervention.

In contrast, Conteh commended keke (tricycle taxi) riders for their exemplary safety record, with only one recorded accident and one fatality since 2023.

This collaborative initiative underscores the importance of community engagement in addressing road safety issues and fostering a safer environment for all road users.