By Musa Bah
Mr President, every now and again, we read in the newspapers about some fatal accident or the other. In the past month alone, I’ve heard about three or four road accidents, some of which were fatal. Our roads are becoming more dangerous than HIV AIDS and Ebola combined! What is the cause of this? How can we minimize death on our roads? What can government do about it?
Theories have it that many of the drivers causing these accidents are either drunk drivers, wrongly licensed drivers or simply children of rich men [sometimes government officials] speeding on our roads without a shred of care as to what their reckless driving causes.
Mr President, we cannot continue to lose our people, sometimes the young, on our roads. It is the responsibility of a government to protect its citizenry, sometimes even against themselves. Therefore, it is time we look at the causes and solutions to road accidents. The problem, as the causes shown above suggest, is multidimensional and as such requires a multifaceted solution.
In the first place, I think there should be a massive campaign against indiscipline in the country. Someone drinking and driving is undisciplined. Some government official allowing his or her unlicensed child to drive is undisciplined; a person issuing a licence to an untested driver is undisciplined. So, all these people and the others have to be sensitized so that the indiscipline in the country will be reduced.
The second aspect of the solution has to do with licencing. Licence should not be an issue of revenue collection; rather, it should be looked at as a national security issue. Thus, it will be wrong for the issuing authority to also be the enforcer of the licence. The licencing should be taken away from the police and a new Licencing Authority/Agency constituted.
The Gambia Transport Union should be given the authority and mandate to test prospective drivers andcertify them. With such a certificate from the Transport Union, the prospective drivers will now go to Gambia Revenue Authority who will then authorize the licencing authority to issue a driver’s licence.
The Gambia Police Force/Service will then be given the mandate to enforce the driver’s licence law. In this way, Mr President, we can reduce, if not eradicate completely, the deaths on our roads. Life is sacred and we should do everything to ensure that lives are saved. After all, life is all about saving lives!
Have a good day Mr President….