One of the most debated national issues today is the toll road which has commenced operating. I have read many comments on this development among which are credible while others are otherwise.
A country’s development does not necessarily mean that every pole raised, every block laid and every project founded must be directly linked to the government. The government opens doors to investors who can help in ensuring sustainable development and the toll road is just one of those development projects.
What worries me is the level of understanding of too many Sierra Leoneans who engage in criticizing the government for every economic development project introduced in the country. Toll roads are paid for in all parts of the world whether they are constructed by government, a local or foreign company.
In countries like Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, South Africa, Morocco and many others, drivers pay when crossing a toll road.
In fact, when visiting the countries mentioned above, taxi drivers will demand that you pay for the toll ticket when driving you to the airport. If you don’t pay it, they will increase extra charge to include it in the fair. That’s how toll roads are used.
I read some comments from a few Sierra Leoneans who protest their fury against the charges for vehicle users to traverse the toll gates, while others argue that there should be an optional gate on which tax is not paid to cross.
Firstly, I think the taxes are high and therefore they should be reduced to avoid forcing drivers to increase travelling fairs on passagers.
Secondly, the company should be requested to present a document containing the money spent to construct the road. With that document, the government will be able to determine the time required for the company to recover their money after which the toll gates become a state owned property.
Subsequently, the government should inform the public about this duration. There are very important questions that need answers from both the government and the company.
These include, whether school vehicles, ambulances, vehicles transferring dead bodies, citizens involved in gruesome accidents, and other emergency cases are all included in the charges.
Thirdly, the idea of an optional gate is completely illogical, for drivers can’t be allowed to use tens or hundreds of miles of the road only to be given the option whether to pay for using such road or not. They must definitely pay for using the road, but at what cost should be the concern of drivers and the general public.
That said, citizens should understand that economic development in every country is paid for. Those living in developed countries pay more taxes for government services and services provided by authorized companies.
Therefore, while we all expect Sierra Leone to develop, we should prepare ourselves to ensure that development is sustainable by paying taxes and being responsible citizens.
God bless you all