By Omar Bah
In a statement signed by its president, Landing B Sanneh, the Gambia Association of Local Government Authorities (GALGA) has called on the Barrow administration to consider a total lockdown in the regions to contain the spread of Covid-19.
“Considering the unpredictable spread of local transmission, we propose a regional lockdown strategy to the government for a considerable time frame. This will allow easy management of cases and tracing of contacts of infected persons as well as control the spread of the pandemic,” GALGA said.
While urging Gambians to be on alert and remain vigilant to protect themselves, their families and others from contracting the virus, the association called on the Barrow administration to consider the welfare of Gambians during these trying times.
“With the increase in the numbers of Covid-19 cases in The Gambia, we are calling on the government and all the eight local councils to be more focused on the welfare of their people to contain local transmissions,” he said.
The Association said it has learnt with great concern, the recent escalation of the rate of Covid-19 transmission and related deaths.
“This calls for more rapid proactive actions, as the figures continue upwards daily. As we live through these trying times, our concerted efforts as a people and country are the only sustainable way forward. It is about the lives of our people. Indeed, it is about the future of our country. Hence, our ability as a sovereign people is under test.
“We are aware that even before the presidential declaration to impose state of public emergency due to the pandemic, Councils have been providing support to their people in the provision of food aid and preventive materials and knapsack sprayers, complemented by mass awareness creation. However, more pragmatic interventions are now required than ever before, as the convenience of time is currently running out slowly.
“As the umbrella body of all the Local Government Authorities in the country, GALGA is enormously concerned with the fast spreading trend of transmission of Covid-19 pandemic in the country. Almost all the new confirmed cases are contracted through local transmissions which make it imperative for local ideas, including local institutions and authorities to be applied to avoid further spreading,” the statement said.
GALGA argued that the lives and livelihoods of the people must be the responsibility of the government as the primary duty bearer but “it is also a natural duty on every citizen to adhere to the preventive measures given by health experts and relevant authorities for the benefit of all and sundry.”
“In line with the Local Government Act 2000 and Local Governance Decentralization frameworks, GALGA is therefore calling on the government to closely work with us by allocating considerable time and resources for the provision of preventive materials to the people and where necessary, increase the provision of food aid. We also urge that they immediately engage all the decentralized structures to intensify sensitization at the level of the communities in order to strengthen their understanding of the dangers of the pandemic and how to prevent it,” GALGA added.
The association also urged councils to increase the provision of sanitary materials at markets and to continue helping their tax payers in line with the health regulations.
“People must not panic but they should be regularly sensitized to understand that coronavirus is preventable if all the health precautionary measures, including regular hand washing, social distancing and wearing of facemask are observed.”