Sunday, July 8, 2012

Public Transport

Lorry readying to go in Kenema  c. 1969
© by Chad Finer

Lorry Park in Kenema  c. 1969
© by Chad Finer

bridge repair on Kabala - Korobonla Road  March 1969
© by Chad Finer
view from the back of a lorry (public transport)  c. August 1968 taken as we headed from our last training at Njala to our post at HRSS in Kenema - © by Chad Finer
Lorry stop on the Makeni-Kabala road  -  March 1969 - good example of roof storage  and view of doorway to the back of the tranpsort - © by Chad Finer
these lorries were larger in size and used for transport of produce and also people - taken in March 1969 on the Makeni-Kabala road - in this picture is Peace Corps volunteer Skip Smith watching over a puzzling conversation between a soldier and people who were briefly taken off the transport.  Skip and I were headed to Kabala, a brief stop on our way to the Loma Mountains and a hike up Mt. Bintimani. - © by Chad Finer
Dusty, crowded, hot, noisy, packed, slow, inexpensive,tedious,challenging, at times dangerous - these are all descriptions of our travel in Sierra Leone by what was called public transport. Trips required a bit of planning. From arrival at the lorry park to find the transport headed to the town that you wanted to go to, to negotiating the fee with the lorry driver - these all took time. Negotiations via bartering with the driver was an enjoyable bit of negotiation - often amusing. As he drove about the park - his lorry boys - that is boys who helped load, and who were at the back and call of the driver - would shout out where they were headed. If you indicated an interest in where they were going then they stopped, would feign grabbing your pack while at the same time offering you an initial fee for the trip that was very high and very outlandish. Our job was then to either feign disinterest (in Krio: e tu deer) and offering a counter-fee of much less which might even be ridiculous in its own right. Negotiations would commence and eventually we would reach a price that was reasonable. Then our bags would be tied to the roof along with other baggage, an occasional goat or sheep, a cage of chickens, or produce. And we would be loaded in the back of the lorry along with some 15 or 20 other people all of whom would be headed along the road to the area that we were going. The back would be eventually quite crowded since the lorry would not head out until they were fully loaded with passengers. In the back there was a rail that sat above the rear frame and connected with the roof. Seating was on wooden benches that lined each side and also lined the front. In the central area of the rear might be loaded with additional belongings. We all were stuffed in like sardines and when the lorry driver felt that he had enough passengers off we would go. When the weather was dry the side canvas would be left up and this usually resulted in some very dusty travel. On a long trip the red latterite dust would coat your skin and leave you feeling somewhat sandy and dirty. On a hot day the breeze would feel good but stops and crowding made the heat nearly unbearable. On a rainy day the side canvas would be tied down but not prevent drips from the roof. Of course - an animal on the roof could make the back wet as well. 

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