Indeed, no development can take place without movement. But movement and mobility are dangerous when safety is not guaranteed or compromised. Considering the increase in the rate of automobile accidents, the relevance road safety should even loom larger in the national discourse.
Statistics have shown an increment in road accidents over the years. Like never before, precious lives are being lost. Capable and productive people are being maimed. Properties and livelihoods are being destroyed. Our roads have frightened the people it should comfort. Yet, road safety is not a much-discussed subject around the tables of decision making.
Policymaking is meant to ensure appropriate protection and promotion of the rights and welfare of the all and sundry through sound policies. So, if the safety of the people becomes threatened in whatever way, it then becomes the duty of the policymakers to put in place mechanisms to head off that threat.
Our roads have become very dangerous. The accidents are a clear testimony. Almost everybody in Gambia has been affected in one way or the other. This tells that all of us are as much part of the problem as we are part of the solution.
Evidently, there are numerous causes to the rise in road accidents. Amongst them is the unmotorable state of the roads, both in terms of their physical condition and size. This situation is more precarious in the hinterlands where many of the roads are filled with potholes and bumps.
The government has over the years done a remarkably good job in improving the accessibility and safety of the roads. Our road infrastructure today is no doubt a far cry from what used to exit. But there’s a need to speed up the process and invest heavily into it. A proper and safe road means that there will be more lives saved and also help in accelerating the national development process.
Another factor responsible for the road accidents is that the use and abuse of alcohol and drug by drivers is quite prevalent. Quite a good number of accidents we witness on our highways are the result of drunken driving. More effort should be put in place to make sure that appropriate form of punishment is meted out to drunken drivers. In this regard, the ‘maslaha’ syndrome – impunity – should not be an option. Neither should the law enforcement authorities sell out our lives and properties for a few hundred dalasi.
The intervention of the authorities has been helpful, but they need to double up their efforts. We cannot afford to lose lots of healthy lives to a problem that can be averted or at least reduced when proper attention is paid to it.
Equally, if not in fact more important in this crusade is sensitisation of the public on road safety. Such efforts should be increased and encouraged. Organising forums wherein the commercial drivers and the authorities could dialogue will help in minimising road accidents.
Early intervention mechanisms of ambulance and medical services will also go a long way in preventing unnecessary deaths, usually caused by too much bleeding before help arrives. It’s no secret that more often than not the deaths that result from road accidents are preventable. There should be an increase in the emergency services around the country and they should be easily accessible. In doing this we are now on the way to make our roads safe and thereby save lives, thus helping in the preservation and promotion of the fundamental right to life.
Saving lives is a duty binding upon every one of us and should be inherently part of the political discourse. All hands are needed on deck to make it a possibility that we register a large decrease in the number of road accidents. It’s upon us all, from the policymaker to the driver on the road as well as passengers, to preserve lives. As the cliché goes, the life you save might be your own.]]>