According to studies, every year more than a million people die in road crashes worldwide, and millions of others sustain injuries or disabilities.
The same studies also indicated that there are a variety of economic costs of motor vehicle crashes to society such as property damage, productivity loss, medical costs, rehabilitation costs, and congestion costs.
According to the latest WHO data published in 2020, Road Traffic Accidents deaths in Gambia reached 695 or 5.40% of total deaths. The age adjusted death rate is 51.34 per 100,000 of population ranks Gambia 8th in the world.
Therefore, in our view, safety on the roads has become a huge problem and therefore should be an integral part of policing in our country.
We therefore want to appreciate the deployment of extra police and the PIU to tackle the chaotic traffic and public space congestion around the Greater Banjul Area during the festive occasion which has been tremendously successful. For once, there was a semblance of sanity on the highways and market areas which are often unnecessarily choked with wrongly parked vehicles, cluttering lines of hawkers of clothes and other merchandize whose scent and sound make life unbearable for the general populace.
In the same vein, the presence of the no-nonsense PIU on the highways not only checked unruly behavior by care- free drivers, thus minimising road crashes, but also served as a great deterrent to gangsters and pick pockets who normally have a field day during feasts.
Granted, the regular traffic police are indispensably important in the maintenance of sanity and saving of lives on our roads, but the police high command should consider occasionally boosting their presence with the injection of PIU officers especially during busy periods. The PIU may not be experienced in dealing with traffic offences but their presence will help prevent those traffic offences in the first place and when they occur, the PIU are better placed to tackle and hand over culprits to the regular police overseeing traffic. Therefore, in our view, the police should include PIUs in the highway patrol team for the purpose of overseeing and enforcing traffic safety compliance on roads and highways.
This is more apt now given the unprecedented congestion on our roads brought about by the much-delayed OIC road construction works. The situation is so bad that motorists disregard and sacrifice basic traffic rules to do whatever suits them, especially on the airport road. Police and the PIU have a big role to play in bringing sanity to our roads and save lives.