As part of its strides towards heightening its sensitization drive geared towards raising awareness among community residents relating to the movement of train and to prevent train derailment, Kingho Investment Company Limited has on Wednesday 7th March, 2021 during a Press Conference held at its Head Office on Signal Hill, in Freetown, reaffirmed its commitment towards enhancing railway safety in villages and in local communities where they conduct their mining activities.
In his statement, Salim Sillah, Director CEO Office, noted that Kingho Investment Company Limited is the parent body of Kingho Mining Company Limited and Kingho Railway and Port Company Limited and they are currently undertaking mining activities at the New Tonkolili Iron Ore Mines in Sambaia, Dasogoia and Simiria chiefdoms of Tonkolili District, whlist Kingho Railway and Port Company Limited operates the 192-kilometre railway leading from the New Tonkolili Iron Ore Mines to the port town of Pepel, in Kamasondo Chiefdom, Port Loko District.
He maintained that as a group, they are truly aware of the challenges in a country like Sierra Leone where railway operation is an extreme novelty to many of its inhabitants, adding that apart from their company, the country has no single commercial train facility which he said is why they are passionate to see that sensitization and education of communities in their rail corridor are prioritized and that they believe that both are very useful to prevent accidents with vehicles, motor bikes and pedestrians on level crossings furthering that the sensitisation strides also serve as a means to alert communities to be aware of train movement and to prevent train derailment.
He pointed out that they are aware of the fact that prior to the start of full-scale train operation on the 6th March 2021 the rails had not been used for over 3 years.
According to him, that was why even before they started using the facility, they undertook an awakening exercise to sensitize the various communities noting that they also did community sensitization on railway safety in villages and on local community radio stations along their operational areas and that these radio sensitizations were done in all local languages spoken at the various localities.
He revealed that they also erected safety signs and posts along the railway line from Pepel to Tonkolili and oversaw the recruitment, deployment and safety training of flagmen and security guards from villages along the railway corridor prior to commencing their railway operation adding that they ensured maintenance on the railway track by replacing stolen rail clips and other ancillary equipment to the best internationally accepted standard.
“In fact, the consequent of these challenges is why we are saddened that our train which departed from the New Tonkolili Mines on Saturday 20st March 2021 around 18:50 GMT hit a 3 yrs old girl at CM 3, Kilometre 66 near Yonkro Village, Maforki Chiefdom, Port Loko District,” he disclosed.
He noted that according to report collected from the company’s train operators, the 3 years old girl was on the rail track alone and without any adult guidance or protection when the bucket of the moving train hit her right foot and she was unconscious when she was rushed to the Port Loko Government Hospital, adding that the company immediately paid visit to the family and the hospital furthering that the company also immediately organised an emergency movement of the child from the Port Loko Government Hospital to the Emergency Hospital in Freetown where she is currently in a stable condition and have undergone surgery.
The official used the opportunity to confirm to all that the girl is alive, and she is doing very well. However, the Police in Port Loko City are still helping with further investigation on that matter.
Kingho has a character of resilience, patience and steadfastness. In the face of all these safety challenges, the company has re-strategized and weighed in more efforts to boost safety education and sensitization for the people in rail corridor communities.
In order to mitigate future occurrences, the official said they will continue the daily community sensitization in villages along the railway corridor, sensitize school pupils through power point presentations, deploy additional flagmen at legal level crossings to control traffic for motorist and pedestrians while the train is running, and they will erect more safety signs along strategic areas.
“We will conduct regular safety trainings for our flagmen and security guards on rail safety and also ensure a 24/7 security patrol along the rail to identify and prevent theft of rail clips on the railway track and also to prevent community people walking inside the rail,” he stated adding how they are also ensuring that the rail maintenance team continues its daily railway maintenance to identify any abnormalities or sabotage and fix them immediately in order to prevent accidents and the derailment of train.
“We will however continue taking suspects removing rail clips to the law enforcement officers for prosecution,” he stated.
He said all those robust measures are indications of Kingho Management’s commitment on the importance of the short-term and long-term safety of their direct impact on communities along the rail line corridor.