By Olimatou Coker
Stakeholders from The Gambia and Senegal border officials, transporters, as well as residents in nearby villages and towns were on Saturday sensitised on the ECOWAS brown card insurance scheme, at a ceremony held in Farafenni NBR.
The automatic brown card insurance scheme is to supplement the systematization of the brown card which requires all motorists in the ECOWAS sub-region to acquire the ECOWAS brown card insurance cover when ever they are taking a local motor third party liability insurance policy.
The ultimate aim of this exercise is to facilitate free movement of persons and goods within the ECOWAS sub-region.
Speaking, Dawda Sarge, chairman national ECOWAS Brown Card Bureau, said the ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance Scheme was established by a protocol signed by ECOWAS heads of state in Cotonou Benin, in 1982. Its main objectives are to enhance the free movement of road users and foster regional integration with guaranteeing a fair and prompt compensation framework to victims of road traffic accidents for losses suffered by visting motorists from other ECOWAS member countries.
He said the scheme is a compulsory insurance cover for third party liability in respect of road traffic accidents involving vehicles travelling across the West African sub-region.
“It basically provides insurance cover for material damage, medical expenses, bodily injury and death to affected individuals. It operates through a network of fourteen national bureaus in each of the fourteen ECOWAS member countries that share land borders”.
According to him, each national bureau performs two main functions; issue brow card certificates to resident motorists thereby acting as an ‘issuing bureau’ and investigate and settle claims arising out of road traffic accidents incurred by foreign motorists thereby acting as a ‘handling bureau’.
Sarge futher stated that the main purpose of this programme in Farafenni is to fulfil a subordinate function of the scheme, which is to inform and educate stakeholders on the purpose and benefits of the scheme.
Ismaila Saidy, representative of the Ministry of Trade, said conscious of the important role brown card insurance scheme plays towards the realisation of the development aspiration of ECOWAS member states and its citizens, “the government of the Gambia would continue to support the bureau’s programs and policies to enable them to realize its goals and objectives”.
He added that his ministry is working closely with other relevant ministries and departments, and the department of legal matters of the ECOWAS Commission to facilitate the ratification of protocols on ECOWAS brown card which shall give way to its full domestication and operationalisation in The Gambia.
Ebrima KS Dampha, Governor of NBR, said: “The Gambia recently started the implementation of the automatic issuance of the ECOWAS brown card insurance certificate to all motorists taking the local insurance from 1st January 2020. The development makes this workshop even more useful as the public needs to be better enlightened on this new project.”
However, Governor Damphaurged all the insurance companies in the country to be more proactive with their sensitisation programs and prompt claims of payments to victims of accidents.