He went on to state that working for the West Africa Operations and Management Company Limited since August has been very interesting and beneficial. He said they have underwent several trainings, and taken a couple of exams to make them more capable of carrying out their respective jobs at the Hastings Toll Gate Station.
He added that the Toll Gate is a blessing to the country as many citizens are testifying that there used to be heavy traffic along the Wellington-Hastings-Waterloo highways, but that the construction of a four-way road has greatly helped to reduce the heavy traffic, and avoid accidents.
He went on to say that human beings are different and that company has policies which workers are expected to respect and maintain but that a few miscreants that are lazy and not ready to work with their Chinese bosses and counterparts are the ones going around giving a bad impression of the company.
He added that the company like any other company can only retain people that are willing and ready to work, and that any responsible company would not want to encourage people bent on making things difficult for the management and fellow workers. According to him, when signing a contract with any company in the country the government and the Labor Ministry would have looked into the facility that will be providing jobs for the staff with a view to ensuring that all necessary things are in place for the welfare of Sierra Leone workers before granting them license to operate in the country.
Alhaji Osman Kamara, Station Agent at the Hastings Tollgate went further to state that the company is comparable to any international company as it provides the basic amenities and privileges for its workers such as rent allowance, transportation allowances, and feeding to the tune of one hundred and fifty thousand Leones (Le150,000) every two weeks. This amount is exempt from the workers’ salary, he said.
According to him, even if workers are picked up by the company vehicles, workers still get the amount mentioned earlier every two weeks.
He called on the government to look out for more companies that will help develop the country and the people in the manner in which the West Africa Operations and Management Company Sierra Leone Limited is doing at the moment.
Alhaji Osman Kamara added that every staff at the company has gone through the normal procedures before being employed as staff and that currently, the company has hundreds of workers doing various jobs.
Also speaking on behalf of his colleagues was Abdul Richard Fofanah. He is among the senior Sierra Leone staff at the West Africa Operations and Management Company. He maintained among other things that they appreciate West Africa Operations and Management Company because since the establishment of the company the management has gone the extra mile to ensure that it pays local staff well and in a timely manner as well as ensuring maximum protection, medically and while at work for the hundreds of Sierra Leoneans it employs.
He maintained that before the advent of West Africa Operations and Management Company, life of the people in the areas where the toll gates are located was very difficult because of the poor road network which made in arduous for travelers to move easily from one point to the other.
He added that apart from providing employment opportunities for Sierra Leoneans, the company is also contributing to the development of Sierra Leone through its corporate social responsibility, citing the mudslide during which period the company allowed its machines to be used in the rescue operations and that the company daily provides its trucks during the national cleaning day exercise to assist in loading and depositing garbage to designated sites around the country. In addition, during the Ebola epidemic the West Africa Operations and Management Company donated funds to help in the fight against the deadly disease.
He added that another feather to the cap of the management of West Africa Operations and Management Company is that they capacitate Sierra Leone workers by preparing them for the eventual total takeover of the Toll Gates by Sierra Leoneans by sending qualified staff to study the relevant fields in China that would enable them to be effective managers of the toll gates once the takeover happens.
To this, Abdul Richard Fofanah who is also a graduate maintained that he and his colleagues are quite satisfied with the way and manner the Chinese managers are treating Sierra Leonean staff because had it been otherwise, most of the local staff would have left for better employment and better treatment elsewhere. “But for the fact that young Sierra Leoneans are still applying for work in their numbers in this institution tells you that it is because of the good pay and good treatment, added to the fringe benefits we are enjoying at the company points to the fact that the West Africa Operations and Management Company is not only abiding by government labor rules but they are contribute in no small way to providing employment opportunities for our graduates and skilled workers,” Abdul Richard Fofanah remarked.
Several other local staff that spoke with the press made similar sentiments, adding that they count themselves very lucky to be employed by West Africa Operations and Management Company and are calling on the government to do what it can to attract other international companies to operate in the country because it would greatly empower more youths across the country.