‘Gambia’s road safety among the worst globally’

By Omar Bah

The Minister of Transport, Works and Infrastructure, has said that road safety record in the Gambia is among the worst in the world.

Addressing stakeholders of the transport and infrastructure sector at the Paradise Beach Hotel during the discussion on the draft national transport policy, Bai Lamin Jobe said upgrading our road infrastructure complemented by road safety measures, will contribute considerately to avoiding such fatalities.

He said experience has also showed that determining policies in this regard can make great difference.
Minister Jobe said the world has set itself the target to reducing to half the number of deaths on road by 2020, “and we hope our policy will support this initiative.”

On the draft policy, minister Jobe said the ten- year policy will guide his ministry on what they are going to do within stipulated ten years or so.

The draft policy, minister Jobe added is the joint work of local consultants (sustainable development focus consultancy group), focus group from the three sub-sectors in transport roads, maritime and aviation and the staff of the ministry.

“The main objective is to provide a vision for the development of adequate, effective, and efficient transport infrastructure and services, as a requirement and engine for socio-economic development,” he said.

He said transport facilitates economic activities in all sectors of the economy, including agriculture, tourism, trade, industry, etc, “Because it enables movement and access to centres of production, marketing, and social services.”

“It is important that this draft policy is informed by the views and opinions of all stakeholders who are directly or indirectly affected by the performance of otherwise of the transport sector,” he said.

He urged the participants to rigorously exchange their ideas on the final draft policy which is clear in sitting policy direction of the transport sector in the next ten years.

The draft national transport policy, he added also attempts to both provide a vision as well as to identify the opportunities for major changes in the sector to support economic growth and development.

“As we all know the Gambian economy is on the part of recovery; we are moving from the crisis endures by dictatorship to a situation with opportunities induced by democracy,” he said.

The ministry of transport, he said should find solutions that will allow for free movement and circulation of goods and persons throughout the country and beyond.

He added: “According to the programme for infrastructure development in Africa (PIDA), the African infrastructure deficit needs an annual investment of ninety-three billion US dollars up to the year 2020.”

“This means that we cannot significantly reduce poverty, we cannot develop without this kinds of investments sustain up to 2020 that’s what they are telling us,” he said.

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  • Some solutions are not reliant on money, just common sense.

    A walk along the pedestrian pavements of the Brikama Highway – anywhere from Westfield to Tobokoto – is a nightmare.

    It seems there are no laws in this country – or if there are the police pay no attention – preventing drivers from parking their vehicles on the pedestrian walkways, forcing walkers – including young children – into the road and into danger from fast-moving traffic.

    It not only puts pedestrians in danger but breaks up the pavement and damages the rain-water channels, costing the local authorities money to make repairs.

    Then we have the totally unregulated Westfield “co-operative” area for taxis, where vehicles come in at speed towards unruly crowds waiting for transport, and those fit enough run along between vehicles trying to jump on board, while children and the elderly are pushed aside.

    Overcrowded vehicles are another concern. As are overcrowded ferries.

    All problems easily addressed by simple regulation and enforcement by police already on the ground.