By Theresa Kef Sesay
In a frantic move to fight against the spread of the coronavirus in the country President Dr. Julius Maada Bio on Friday 2 July 2021 at State House engaged the national, regional and district Executives of the Commercial Bike Riders Association and urged them to use their membership to sensitise the nation about the deadly Delta variant of the Coronavirus
The engagement, bringing together senior members of Government, the Inspector General of the Sierra Leone Police, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Youth Affairs, the Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority, took place at the Credential Room, State House.
Stating the purpose of the engagement, Chief Minister, Jacob Jusu Saffa, said that commercial bike riding had created a lot of jobs for a large proportion of the youthful population, adding that that had actually taken a huge burden off the Government which was working to create jobs for the youthful population.
“So, the purpose of this engagement is to have a face-to-face meeting with His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio, who has always been a close friend to all bike riders,” he noted.
Umaru Talie Bah, President of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bike Riders Association, expressed delight for the recognition that President Bio and his Government have for them adding that they had long waited for such an opportunity.
“Your Excellency Sir, we are grateful for this opportunity and the recognition. We also want to thank the Ministry of Youth Affairs. We are now being consulted in every decision-making regarding our welfare,” Mr. Bah said.
He revealed that the Association has 1,666,000 active members and 1,256,000 non-active members, saying that the non-active members were those without bikes but assist active members in their everyday activities.
“Your Excellency and senior members of Government, it is worth noting that every year our association contributes an estimated Le 7.5 billion to the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) to register, license of bikes and pay fines,” he noted.
Umaru concluded by stating that they were partners in development showing commitment to transform their dreams by helping the Government succeed in efforts to empower the youth. He, therefore, urged the Sierra Leone Police Force to be reasonable in their conduct of arresting and detaining defaulters.
In his response, President Julius Maada Bio thanked the leadership of the bike riders for their huge contribution to nation-building, saying that they were important because they had filled up a huge gap in the transport sector and touched a huge number of lives on a daily basis.
“The importance of this engagement is for us as a Government to look for ways you can be incorporated into the governance system of the state. We recognise the role you play in the economy. It is our business to promote and facilitate your safety and reduce the vulnerability of your work while riding your bikes,” he noted.
President Bio urged the bike riders to be responsible and abide by the rules and regulations binding their trade in the country, adding that they must do everything to protect the passengers and their bikes as the source of their livelihood.
He maintained that his Government would take concrete actions to make sure that the bike riders are informed and able to participate in major decisions about their association.