Letters: Unnecessary blocking of roads and its potential harmful economic effects

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Dear editor,

Quite often, one sees roads being blocked by people who have either a ‘gente’ or some other programs. It happens that these people who do these actions might take permissions from the Gambia Police Force. Perhaps not all of them seek and obtain permits but it can certainly not be that the police are unaware.

Last evening, at Wellingara along the Coastal Road Highway, a big program was going on and so they blocked the road such that vehicles had to divert their route through the settlements just to avoid this area. Around the place where the road was blocked, police on the motorcycles could be observed as if they were giving some kind of security to the people who were holding the event.

This has many implications and should be looked at carefully by the Government and solutions found. To begin with, we do not have adequate roads in this country. Just a few days ago, I wrote on another issue which also highlighted the problem of inadequate roads. If therefore one road is closed, it affects almost all the other roads which is something that makes people experience delays in their businesses and other economic activities.

This type of closure of roads makes people go to work late, whether they’re in the formal or informal sector. Certainly, this affects productivity and as such, the country will be losing revenue which can run into millions of dalasis just because someone or a family has a program. This is unfair and outright illegal. I am saying it is illegal despite the fact that some of these people are sometimes permitted by the police. But anything that can cause a loss of revenue to the country should be avoided.

The other problem that this road blocks engender is the issue of accidents. There might not be statistics on how many accidents this causes but it certainly causes accidents in town as some children have only their streets to play – whether it’s football or other games. Yet again, this is another problem in the country as the children and youths do not have enough playgrounds. But that is a topic for another day.

The diversions, which are an outcome of the road blocks, also cause a lot of quarrels and animosity in communities as some drivers drive so roughly as if they are on a highway. Some parents, due to fear for their children, will always yell at these drivers who will in turn yell back at them and quarrels ensue.

Again, some commuters will always quarrel with the drivers or the apprentice because the diversion might not favour them regarding where they wish to alight. All these troubles are caused simply because someone has a program and decided to block a whole road and cause a lot of inconvenience to people.

Just imagine a pregnant woman who is touched by the pains of labour and is being rushed to a clinic or hospital only for the driver to encounter a road block and has to divert and use a route within the community. The amount of pain and suffering that will be encountered by such a woman is better imagined than experienced. It may even lead to the loss of life of either the mother or the baby.

The area councils like the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) could make a lot of money had they embarked on proper planning. The KMC could construct centres in strategic locations of the municipality where these types of programs could be held at a cost. They would employ people to manage these centres so that whoever has a program can go there and organize your event.

This will bring employment and a lot of revenue and will have the benefit of ridding our roads and public places of the nuisance currently observed. It should be wrong to let one individual or one family disrupt the lives of the whole community just because they have a program.

Alternatively, the KMC could encourage investors to build such centres so that everyone will benefit from them. One is tempted to ask: where are the entrepreneurs in this country? We must utilise our god-given abilities to make our country a better one for all.

Musa Bah
Bundung