The Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority – SLRSA was established by an Act of Parliament in 1996. The Road Transport Authority Act of 1996 gives the Authority (SLRSA) to design and administer rules and regulations regarding; the registration and licensing of vehicles whether for commercial or private use, the testing of vehicles for their intended use and fitness of persons to be drivers of vehicles, to coordinate development in the road transport sector and also promote road safety including any other connected matter.
The Authority’s vision is to deliver unto the people of Sierra Leone goods and services that make road transportation modern, safe, and more efficient through better regulation, coordination and promotion of effective practices by all stakeholders in the road transport sector.
David Panda-Noah is the Executive Director of SLRSA. Since his appointment 16 months ago as Executive Director of SLRSA, by His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio and subsequent approval by the Sierra Leone House of Parliament in July 2018. David Panda-Noah has demonstrated high level of commitment to national service and Road Safety Agenda embedded in the government’s New Direction Manifesto.
The SLRSA Executive Director has, unarguably, won the admiration, hearts and minds of many at home and abroad through his exemplary and disciplined leadership style backed by his passion to serve humanity. This is evident in the many positive transformations he has brought at the SLRSA. His appointment was seen by many as ‘The Resurrection of SLRSA Under the New Direction’
In this interview, David Panda-Noah speaks on some of the key reforms the SLRSA has attained under his leadership as Executive Director.
What measures have you put in place to increase awareness On Road Safety Education?
Road Safety is and will always be at the center of the operations and activities of the SLRSA. The safety and wellbeing of the vulnerable road users is among the key functions of the Authority. We believe that Sierra Leone can only succeed as a country in reducing road carnage with intensive road user education on road safety- related issues backed by well-tailored road safety messages to public. In order for us to succeed, the SLRSA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with over 20 Commercial and Community radio stations across the country. This will create the platform for us to reach out to the public using radio as the media or channel of communication. As radio is the predominant channel of communication in our country and mostly in all our operational areas. These radio stations provide broadcast airtime on a weekly basis which we utilize to update the public on recent developments within the Authority and also raise public awareness on road safety.
My administration has been very proactive in our quest to educate the public on positive road user education through outreach to lorry parks and market places; primary, secondary and tertiary institutions of learning, and universities across the country all in a bid to raise awareness on road safety and thus increase the level of awareness among road users. We have held so many road safety workshops, seminars and public lectures for lots of institutions state and non-state actors.
What Are the challenges you encounter in terms of political will and that of partnership with other MDA’s including the Private Sector and Civil Society?
My Administration continues to enjoy the much needed political will power and backing of the central government and all Ministries, Departments and Agencies. Inter-agency collaboration (Public – Private Partnership) is the foundation stone on which rests the many success stories of the SLRSA. Under my leadership, the SLRSA does not work in isolation. My ‘open door policy’ on collaboration and partnership is second to none. Aside from the strong already existing mutual relationship with the Sierra Leone Police Force, SLRSA has partnered or collaborated with the Freetown City Council FCC, Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces RSLAF, Commercial Bike Riders and Tricycle Unions, the National Drivers and General Transport Workers Union. Office of National Security ONS, Traders Union and Market Women Association, Total Sierra Leone Limited, Sierra Leone Brewery Limited but to name a few. This is manifested in the immeasurable support the Authority continues to enjoy from our Stakeholders from all works of life in executing our lawful mandate. Plans are underway for the publication of a Concise booklet on the ‘’The Islamic Perspective On Road Safety” by some 7 renowned Islamic scholars in the country. The same would be done by the Council of Churches Sierra Leone CCSL
Tell us more about your relationship with the media in Sierra Leone and the support they have rendered so far?
The media has a very pivotal role to play if we are to succeed as an institution mandated by law to promote road safety in the country. My relationship with the media is very mutual. Even before I was appointed as Executive Director of SLRSA I have established a very strong relationship with media practitioners and the media in Sierra Leone. With the support of my media team (SLRSA Communication and Outreach Unit) I have held a one-day engagement with Media Practitioners (News Editors, Station Managers, and News Anchors) from the print and electronic media in Sierra Leone to solicit their unwavering support in the Authority’s road safety drive.
The Entertainment Industry plays a great role in public education and in shaping the minds of citizens. A greater percentage of the youthful population are listeners of entertainment programs on radio. My administration mixes a blend of some entertainment with education to raise awareness on road safety. To achieve this, we held a one-day engagement with radio Disc Jockeys (DJ’s) from across the country all geared towards road safety awareness raising. Today the Authority can boast of having a conglomerate of Radio DJ’s for Road Safety, which I consider a plus on our road safety drive.
What are some of the institutional reforms the SLRSA has achieved under your leadership?
Institutional reform is the process of reviewing and restructuring state institutions for quality, effective and sustainable service delivery. These reforms create space for institutional accountability to their constituents and or stakeholders. Reform efforts can both provide accountability for both the institution and it stakeholders. succeeded in making tremendous institutional reforms at SLRSA and these reforms are yielding the expected dividend.
State of the art Customer Service Centre; Compulsory Drivers Testing, Vehicle Fitness Testing, Interconnectivity of all SLRSA branches across the country to the Main office, Decentralization of Operations, are among our reform strategies.
The establishment of a state-of-the-art Customer Service Center at the Authority’s Headquarter in Freetown with well-trained customer service oriented staff is among the numerous reforms we have achieved so far. This center serves as a one stop shop for all SLRSA products and services. In order to see that all vehicles are roadworthy before they are registered, we have reintroduced the mandatory Vehicle Road Worthiness Test (MOT) for both new registration and renewals. Again, the quality and attitude of drivers on the roads has a contributing factor in reducing the number of road carnage. To curb this, we have made it a must on all Drivers License Applicants to go through a very rigorous driving test before they are issued with a driving license.
Over the years, interconnectivity of regional offices to the main hub at the Authority’s head office was a very big challenge to the revenue generation drive of the Authority. This is now a thing of the past. All regional offices can now connect with ease to the main hub in Freetown and can now process jobs much faster. One good and positive thing about this is that regional offices will soon start to do new registration of vehicles and motor bikes. This breaks the chain and hassle of traveling from one point to another to do new registration in Freetown.
Discipline is defined as the practice of teaching others to obey rules or norms by using punishment to correct unwanted behaviors. My Administration does not in any way condone indiscipline among staff. We have instituted strict internal disciplinary measures to deal with any staff that act in contravention of the institution’s professional code of conducts.
Decentralization of the operations and activities of the SLRSA for better; efficient and effective, accessible and quality service delivery is one of the prompt strides made by the Authority in recent times. Quite recently, we commissioned for the first time 3 new branch offices in 3 districts; Bonthe, Moyamba and Pujehun. Indigenes in those areas were finding it very challenging to access our products and service and by extension they lack the necessary awareness on road safety. So having an operational office in those areas will reduce the burden of travelling from one point to another in the name of accessing our services. Our presence in those areas will also help increase the level of awareness on road safety.
What are you doing as a traffic law enforcement agency in enforcement of traffic laws?
Enforcement of traffic laws and regulations is among the responsibilities of the SLRSA and this was the more reason for the enactment of the Road Transport Amended Act of 2003. This Act saw the establishment of the Traffic Warden Corps (Now Road Safety Corps) for the enforcement of Traffic Laws and Regulations and to as well educate the public on road safety among other things. The Safety and Enforcement Department of the SLRSA has been very vigilant and robust in enforcement of traffic laws and regulations. This has contributed immensely in the reduction of road carnage and severity of fatalities on our roads. This department has been mounting ‘On-the-spot’ checks to clamp down on unregistered and unlicensed vehicles and drivers and to as well prohibit derelict vehicles from plying our roads.
Do you have plans to increase your personnel strength across the country?
Empirical evidence show that youths make up the bulk of the population of Sierra Leone. And many development experts have posited that the development of any nation largely depends on its youths. Youth employment is at the heart of President Bio and his New Direction Manifesto. The Government and its partners are working tirelessly to actualize this. As part of SLRSA’s Commitment in helping the Central Government in reducing the high rate of youth unemployment in the country, the Authority recently employed about 250 deserving and qualified youths to fill in various positions in the Authority of which 150 were enlisted as Road Safety Corps. The training was done by the Sierra Leone Police and lasted for about 10 weeks at the Sierra Leone Police
These new Road Safety Corps would be deployed in all our operational areas across the country and they will help solve the many road safety challenges in the country.
As a team player and unifier, I have succeeded in bringing so many reforms at the SLRSA and all of these achievements were as a result of the support from Board Chairman. Sheikh Mustapha Bawoh and that of my fire branded Deputy Executive Director, Ibrahim Sannoh, together with the entire management and staff of SLRSA.