By Sulaiman B. Sowa
Bribery poses a significant threat to law enforcement and the Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) efforts to fight corruption, especially in the traffic sector. In many instances, citizens would prefer to pay bribe than face court and pay fines for traffic offences. This has created an atmosphere of lawlessness and caused corruption to permeate in the traffic sector.
In a bid to ensure a bribe-free traffic sector, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Eastern Region Office in Kenema on Wednesday 23rd February, 2022 engaged and admonished road safety corps of the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) in Kenema to desist from bribery and all acts of corruption. The engagement took place at the SLRSA office in Kenema.
Addressing officers on the ill-effects of bribery on national development, ACC’s Senior Public Education Officer, Sulaiman B. Sowa, said that bribery helps violators circumvent laws and regulations, making law enforcement a much less reliable tool for preventing corruption and traffic offences. Mr. Sowa furthered that the cost of bribery on national development runs into millions in revenue loss, noting that these monies could be used to build more schools, better hospitals and improved salaries of workers.
Mr. Sowa also said that the impact of bribery increases risk of unsafe conditions on both roads and transport systems, emphasizing that funds intended for maintenance of roads, upgrading or provision of safety measures are diverted for private gain. The bad effects of bribery will not only be loss of State revenue but also, loss of trust and respect for traffic officers and law enforcement institutions, thereby increasing lawlessness among road users, he added.
Mr. Sowa concluded by calling on all road safety corps to resist and reject bribery as effective traffic management is threatened by bribery, emphasizing that bribery is a serious offence in the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act as amended in 2019.
Speaking on key provisions in the AC Act of 2008 as amended, Investigation Officer, Quinton David said, road safety corps must master their internal policies and familiarize themselves with other laws governing their work. He said a public officer entails paid, unpaid, temporary or permanent and elected or appointed into a public service or work. He therefore advised volunteers that deceiving the principal is a serious offence in the AC Act of 2008 as amended.
Speaking on bribery, Mr. David emphasized that a person who agrees, solicits or accepts a bribe commits an offence, for which upon conviction, a fine of not less than Fifty Million Leones or a jail term of not less than a five-year jail may be levied. He concluded by urging road safety corps to report those who attempt to bribe them as an example of their commitment towards the fight against corruption.
Moinina Massaquoi, Admin. Officer SLRSA in Kenema, said the engagement was timely and appropriate as it educated them on issues of integrity and how they can perform their duties in a corrupt-free environment. He said the Authority has acknowledged the threat of bribery towards road safety and has therefore instituted an internal corruption prevention unit to ensure a corrupt-free road safety management.
He assured the Commission of their commitment to the fight against corruption.