Letters: Improving safety on roads and reducing accidents

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Dear editor,

There is need for the police and the National Roads Authority (NRA) to investigate the circumstances that led to the fatal accident that took the lives of three very young and promising Gambian lives.Not for the purpose holding anyone accountable for causing the accident but to better understand why, how and what caused the accident.

The results could be extremely useful for review of existing policies, laws and practices on road transportation, vehicle licensing and general management of roads with a view to enhance road safety and reduce accidents.

For example are Gambian roads made with the right materials and quality? What are the conditions of roads or are roads regularly maintained? Are road signs and marks obvious and adequate? What is the road worthiness of the vehicle? Did the driver have a valid driving license and what was his competence and experience in driving? Was he over-speeding or was there any other interference leading to the accident? In fact were the driver and passengers engaged in any practices inside the vehicle as to improve or undermine their own safety?
These and many questions should interest the police particularly the traffic police as well as the National Roads Authority. Answers to these questions can help us to review the manner of road construction and its maintenance. It can also help us to review the issuing of driver’s license as well as to review the assessment of vehicles on the roads.

It will also serve to educate citizens as to how to conduct oneself while driving or in a vehicle!
One thing is clear and that is one can notice by just looking at vehicles on the roads that many are generally old, poorly maintained and unworthy for use. Hardly folks service vehicles and at the beginning of the year the traffic police don’t fully enforce vehicle checking to ensure that all vital organs are functioning well.

One can also see that road maintenance is poor in the Gambia including the presence of road marks and signs. There is also limited knowledge about road signs. Many people who drive don’t either understand or totally ignore the marks on the roads or the signposts along the road. It is common to see drivers going at 100km/h when the signpost in front is indicating 30km/h. Similarly one can see drivers doing overtake when the road mark is saying no overtake!
I strongly believe most road accidents are caused by these issues but hardly are their investigations so as to determine the cause and circumstances. Usually investigations only take place when two vehicles hit each other or a vehicle hits an object or a human being.
But when a vehicle crashes on its own such as a somersault, there is hardly any follow up investigation. Therefore I wish to ask the IGP and NRA to conduct an investigation into this accident and all future accidents so we can learn lessons. Those lessons can be helpful to further improve safety on the roads hence protect lives and the future!
For Sise. For Papa. For Saikou. May their gentle souls rest in perfect peace. Amen

Madi Jobarteh
Kembujeh

 

 

 

 

The importance of transparency

Dear editor,

Following the startling revelations by the former vice president of the Republic of The Gambia, Madame Fatoumatta Jallow-Tambajang (regardless of whether they are true or not), won’t it prudent for there to be a provision in our laws making it binding on the president to reveal the reason for sacking of a cabinet minister, at least in some particular cases which do not compromise national security? To me, it seems that not telling the public does not prognosticate well for our efforts to be transparent and accountable.

Madame Jallow-Tambajang claims that it was the current minister of Foreign Affairs (then the ambassador to the United Nations), Mr Mamadou Tangara and Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, former minister of Foreign Affairs and vice president, who masterminded her sacking by giving wrong information to the president.

This decision, according to Madame Jallow-Tambajang, was based on a one-sided story and as a result she felt disappointed and betrayed by the president. Is she justified in having those feelings? Well, the answer to that question will largely depend on the type of relationship the two of them had. But nonetheless, one would have expected the president to confront her with the ‘facts’ as he would have thought of them at the time.

We have also seen the president sack Mr Mai Ahmad Fatty, former minister of the Interior without revealing what he had done (which is within his right as per the current constitution) only to rehire him and appoint him a Special Adviser to the president.

The interesting thing is that when Mr Fatty made certain statements in the media, someone at Statehouse came out to say that if he (Mr Fatty) doesn’t keep quiet, they will spill the beans.This insinuated that they knew something that Mr Fatty did which he would not want to come out in the open. If that is so, then reappointing him will send the wrong signal to the citizens that the government officials are in the habit of covering up for each other while they continue to enjoy the spoils of high office.

Perception is very important in politics and a government should try as much as possible to ensure that the public has a good perception about it and not do things which will send a wrong signal about its intentions and (in)actions.It is said that the best detergent is sunshine. Instead of allowing people to use their imaginations and conjure up some nonexistent conspiracy theories, it will be prudent to give out information (credible, timely and accurate) to avert the inevitable denials and counter denials.

If Mr Tangara and Darboe willfully deceived the president to sack Madame Jallow-Tambajang then that says a lot about them and the Gambian people deserve to know so that they (citizens) will know how to deal with these two in future.

Similarly, if Madame Jallow-Tambajang deliberately tried to tarnish the images of these two gentlemen, then the citizens should also know so that they can deal with her appropriately.
What all this goes to show is the importance of accountability and transparency in governance. You cannot tell the people of the particular commissions or omissions of people who are expected to man public offices in the country. All this will do is to erode trust in politicians and public officials.

There is a need to cleanse our body polity and seek to regain the public trust as without it, it will be very difficult to attain any meaningful progress.

Musa Bah
Nusrat SSS