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Gumbo Touray says road-clearing operation necessary

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By Omar Bah

The founder of the All-People’s Party has defended the controversial road-clearing exercise.

The exercise involving the removal of both permanent and temporary structures and installations that violate regulations related to road safety and public order generated criticisms in some quarters, with many small businesses knocked out forever.

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But sharing his opinion on the issue for the first time, Gumbo Ali Touray, also a consultant planner in international development, said the exercise is necessary, perhaps too late an action, and that in the context of the country’s present urban development, its settlements need constant rectification and correction of the urban form.

“A lot of damage is done to the environment in which we live and measures ought to be taken from time to time by the government to restore normality and obtain a conducive environment for better living,” he added.

In Serekunda today, Touray added, unused vehicles are scattered everywhere, makeshift kiosks are mushrooming all over, uncontrolled sanitary waste pouring in “our streets, litter and refuse seems to enjoy public indifference, not to mention the unacceptable traffic congestion having a heavy toll on road journeys, public time and resultant economic wastage”.

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“For how long we shall ignore these urban inconveniences which when we fail to address them, erode all the elements of public betterment. Let me make it clear from the onset before being labelled a government supporter that I am far from being so. I am not an NPP fan, neither do I support its politics nor government policy as such. But purely as a professional and a Gambian more than anything else, a national matter should be the concern of all of us no matter what political affiliation,” he said.

He added that for those affected who are raising voices, “does it occur to them that running your kiosk or putting your table on the roadside is a disadvantage to the shop owner who is paying proper tax to GRA?”

“To locate in front of proper shops, by the pavement doing informal vendouring, is at the expense of shop owners. The nuisance caused to pedestrians or even motorists having no side lanes to park is cumbersome and unacceptable. The claim that clearing unauthorized roadside users is depriving them of their daily income is an assertion that does not hold water. Arguably, one is compelled to ask why they should be there in the first place as unauthorized structures,” he stated.

Touray stressed that the national road clearing should continue unhindered and should have the support of all.

“I commend those who initiated the exercise designed to protect the public interest. For those politicians clamoring that it should stop as victims are affected, this is our problem Gambia. So long as we ignore the public interest and promote self-interest, just because my sister is affected, kin or kinship, national development stalls. We are now heading to 2024 marking almost 60 years of independent Gambia. The state of this country today should certainly have passed what it is today,” he concluded.

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