All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’ - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 8 No 2

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Still No Life Jackets At Kissy Terminal For Pampas      
Written by Christopher Koker   
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 16:18
Until and unless the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration's Executive Director, Mr. Philips Lukuley, and his team, are really seen to match words, policies, and commitment with action, there is in prospect for Sierra Leone more loss of thousands of lives of our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters; resulting from capsizing boats/pampas, that don't have on board any life jackets, as prescribed by the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration Act, for the safety of both passengers and crew, in the event of inclement weather or storms. 

It could be recalled that the rather unfortunate Shenge - Tombo boat disaster of Tuesday 8 September, 2009, in which over 200 Sierra Leoneans perished, was very largely owing to the pathetic fact that the killer boat; "Gbolcharang", meaning in the Sherbro language, 'clean heart', did not have a single life jacket on board, for neither passengers, nor crew!

It was past Saturday November 21, 2009, at exactly & 5:5am, when I arrived at the Kissy Ferry Terminal. I was on my way to Masoyila-Lungi in a bid to visit an ailing close relative of mine.

The only private ferry that was in operation, Muzuk, was berthed over at Targrin. Great Scarcies Ferry, which is likewise privately owned, was out of working order and berthed at the Kissy Ferry Terminal.

Three Boats/Pampas, were already over loaded with at least a 150 passengers on board each, and just ready to start or put on there outboard engines to ferry their human cargo from the Kissy Ferry Terminal to Targrin.

There was not a single life jacket in any of the overloaded boats getting ready to sail.

At exactly 8:45am, one of the overloaded boats set sail. Then, at 8:50am, the other left.

And because my investigations had revealed to me that the Muzuk ferry that was berthed at Targrin would be leaving there by 11:00 am, to sail to Kissy Terminal, and leave Kissy Terminal at 1: p.m. back to Targrin, I decided to risk my life by jumping on board, into the third and only overloaded boat which like the previous two was about to sail to Targrin.

On board, I asked the Captain of the boat, why his overloaded boat like the two that had previously set sail did not have a single life jacket on board.

I likewise asked him whether he was not aware that if constituted a grave offence to ferry passengers in any boat without the exact number of life jackets for the passengers… and crew alike.

His reply to my two concerns raised was that…. "Pa look me, if you dae wait for life jacket before you go, den do ya cam dong from my pampa saful… na huna all puel dis country… if government know say a for get life jacket na mi pampa, mek dem supply me, a nor get any forkin money for go buy life jacket… do ya, sidom saful if you wan for go ya!"

I kept quiet and said nothing further. He started the outboard engine and ferried us, about 155 of us, across to Targrin.

It would interest readers to know that on my return at about 4:30pm it was, the same life jacketless boat that again ferried me from Targrin back to the Kissy Ferry Terminal.

Unlike the Shenge-Tombo boat episode, no storm caught up with us at sea while we were crossing the estuary of the Rokel River…  If there had been one, God only knows what would have become of us, passengers and crew, in a boat without a single life jacket…!

Yearning for the mother country?

The right choice is Kevin McPhilips Travel

©Sierra Herald 2002