While it is commendable that the IGP has decided to temporarily suspend checkpoints, I urge him to make it a permanent decision.
There’s some confused misconceptions in a lot of Gambians that they equate safety with checkpoints. If you follow their thinking you will notice their total lack of knowledge of the purpose of checkpoints on one hand and security on the hand one!
Let me say upfront that Checkpoints don’t necessarily enhance security especially in the way they are mounted in The Gambia!
These killings, armed robberies and burglaries we always complain about are taking place with the continued presence of checkpoints. How therefore can one claim that checkpoints improve security?
I get even more shocked when I hear folks say security was better under the Tinpot Dictator Yaya Jammeh. That’s totally false!!! We all know that there was lot of armed robberies and burglaries at the time.
In fact, it was because of the worrying incidents of crime that the Operation Bulldozer was formed and the initial setup of Anti-Crime Unit. We recall how Jammeh hid behind incessant murders to justify his illegal execution of the nine Mile 2 inmates in 2012.
I have a checkpoint in front of Bottrop school in Kembujeh. They are ill-equipped in all respects such that if I am attacked at home at 2am by criminals, how can that checkpoint come to my rescue? I once confronted them with that question during those days and the officers there nearly took the hell out of me. For merely asking them?
One checkpoint at one location cannot even take care of the full length of that road much more the entire community. Which criminal will see a checkpoint and present himself there???!!! Come on!
Checkpoints hardly detect crime such as drug or arms trafficking. Checkpoints don’t address over speeding because a vehicle stops at a checkpoint!!! So checkpoints are only good at causing delays, corruption and abuse!!!
For example, what is the purpose of the Denton bridge checkpoint other than to delay citizens going to work or business.?
Gambians, what we deserve and need is a reformed police service and reformed security system. We need to equip the police with modern policing knowledge, skills and modern tools and equipment. We need a modern professional police. That has been my call ever since!
For example, the police need more vehicles, motorbikes, bicycles and horses for constant patrol of highways across the country and streets in our communities. We need police dogs for search and rescue and detection of illicit materials.
We need more training in community policing and more investment in that area. The police need more communication tools, modern gadgets to check speed, drones to gather intelligence, detect criminals and combat crime. We need more training in forensics and intelligence gathering and crime detection. If you go to the Gambian Police Force you will find no K9 unit, no forensics officers or equipment, no horses unit, no drones unit. Even if they have, they lack the necessary knowledge, skills, and tools.
Above all, we need to inculcate human rights values and standards in police work. Essentially the police are human rights protectors. Their work is human rights protection hence human rights should be in the center and front and on top and below and around them and their work!
We should demand the Government and the National Assembly to undertake urgent and comprehensive police reforms. They should ensure that there is adequate funding for the police. They should demand results and accountability from the police. That’s what we need to talk about.
Checkpoints are no solution but an impediment. They damage the economy and abuse human rights by infringing on the freedom of movement of citizens.
If you don’t know, Checkpoints are temporary and localized security measures mostly in times of conflict or disasters or during an occurrence of a major crime where the criminals are pursued.
But you cannot have permanent and nationwide checkpoints in a country that is in peacetime and a democracy. That’s a contradiction!
The culture of checkpoints is a dictatorship tool introduced by Yaya Jammeh to control, intimidate and rob citizens. No citizen should entertain permanent nationwide checkpoints.
I therefore commend the police for this decision but I demand the IGP to make it permanent!
Let’s support the police to be modernized, empowered and efficient than to ask them to remain backward and crude. Checkpoints as a policing tool are backward and crude!
It’s violence against citizens!!
For The Gambia Our Homeland