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Sunday, May 22, 2022

Letters : What is the Department of Physical Planning doing?

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Dear Editor

Onboard a taxi in Serekunda the other day, we meandered through a snail-slow traffic only to come to a halt at a dead end. The road was no more, we had reached a house right in front of us.

The road was narrow and as a result we couldn’t make a U-turn either.

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It was then that I remembered an incident in London, United Kingdom when again I was in a taxi going to Modern Station and we reached a dead end. We were right in front of a house, a storey building. There again, the road was so narrow that we could not turn around.

The second incident of course made me realize from where perhaps that London Corner got that name. In London, United Kingdom also, they encounter narrow roads and slum type arrangement of buildings and houses.

No organisation at all!
This brought to mind a question which I have for long asked myself: what is our Department of Physical Planning doing? Indeed this question should be asked and answers sought as our towns and cities are so poorly planned and managed that one would think that we don’t have a whole government department dedicated to planning our cities.

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This problem is usually more pronounced during the rainy season when floods occur and it causes mayhem mostly because water ways are blocked by buildings and other residential complexes. This also makes it extremely difficult for emergency responders to reach certain areas in order to bring relief and other assistance to victims.

Similarly, when unfortunately fire outbreaks happen, Fire and Rescue Services have no access to residences to put out the fire or rescue victims.

It ravages entire buildings leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

People are left in limbo and chaos ensues as even those who wish to help can’t do a thing.

This state of affairs has other unwanted consequences as well. If and when a criminal is wanted and being chased by the police, s/he can easily escape into these complexes jumping from one house to the other and they won’t be able to apprehend the culprit.

This also causes traffic nuisances also to an extent that a trip which could last thirty minutes would last two or three hours. This causes a lot of economic loses to the nation in the long run.

Many workers end up going to work so late that their service delivery is adversely affected.

The poor planning and management of our communities also affects municipal officers ability to collect and dispose of waste.

This is one of the reasons that ou waste management is so horribly poor that it will take real innovation to solve it. One need not belabor this point as it is well known in the country.

Thus, it is necessary that our government, through the Department of Physical Planning, the Ministry of Local Government and Lands, the Ministry of Environment, come up with a mechanism to plan the arrangement of cities and towns.

They should workout a plan which will ensure the widening of roads and spacing of certain public buildings to reduce the risk of loss of life and properties in case of disasters which are bound to occur one day or the other as it is a part of nature.

The efforts will of course be very unpopular in the beginning but in the final analyses, citizens will know that it is for the good of the country and thus embrace it. We have to keep population growth in mind as well so that there will always be plans for the future.
The purpose of this write up is simply to start a conversation around this topic as I am no expert at all!

Musa Bah
The Scribbler

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