By David Kujabi (Police PRO)
History was made on 21 May 2018 at the Gambia Police Force Headquarters when three Commissioners were promoted to the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG). The three, who are the first to ever don the AIG rank, were decorated at a ceremony graced by Mr. Bully Dibba, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Interior, Inspector General of Police and Senior Police officers. They include CP Demba Sowe, CP Ebrima Bah and CP Abdoulie Sanyang.
The ceremony also marked the decoration of other personnel to senior ranks; eight to the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), one to the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (SP) one to the rank of Assistant Commissioner, and five to the rank of Commissioner.
In delivering his remarks, PS Dibba congratulated the newly promoted personnel and encouraged them to continue to maintain good leadership practice. He urged them to be courageous in their dealings and be ready to take full responsibility of their actions.
IGP Kinteh on his part told the newly decorated that the promotion is a new challenge and added responsibility to their careers in devotion to the rule of Law. “Considering the obligation, roles and responsibilities, new structure and reforms of the Gambia Police Force in ensuring and adherence to the rule of Law, it is no doubt that this promotion will strengthen the efforts towards competent Police Force that would provide better services to the Gambian citizens” he said.
IGP Kinteh furthered that, the Senior Officers being decorated are officers worthy of emulation by all other personnel as they are with the requisite skills and knowledge to strive and make the Force to grow. He however cautioned that promotion is not for ornamentation but rather a great challenge particularly for the AIG ranks as it has been vacant for many years. “This promotion is based on our belief in your commitment to service delivery in the overall quest for quality and more harmonious relationship with society for the interest of the nation,” he added.
Other speakers included Alhagie Mamour Jobe, Deputy Inspector General of Police who did the welcome remarks and ASP Ebou Colley, who delivered the vote of thanks.
Road traffic accidents in The Gambia
Road Traffic Accidents (RTAs) have resulted in more waste of life and property than diseases and sundry ailment put together. There are mainly three types of RTAs, and they are; fatal, serious and minor.
In The Gambia, RTAs are fast becoming a common occurrence with 2017 statistic recording a total of eight hundred and two (802) of which 123 have been fatal. Statistics further show that from 2007 to 2017, there has been 8815 road traffic accidents of which 927 have been fatal. It is alarming to note that 188 incidences of RTAs have already been registered in the first quarter of 2018 out of these 31 were fatal. This is even more alarming considering the fact that we are yet to enter the busier periods of Ramadan, feasts like “Koriteh”, “Tobaski” and Christmas, when accidents become an even more frequent occurrence.
The Motor Traffic Act under sections 47, 48, 49, and 51 gives provisions and guiding principles to all persons driving motor vehicles on any public highway whilst in The Gambia. The provisions advise that: No person shall drive a motor vehicle in a manner so carelessly, dangerously and speedily which endangers human life, particularly in restricted or built up areas such as towns. It also provides that when approaching a town or village, drivers must limit their speed to avoid road traffic accident. The speed limit to observe should not be more than 30KM/hr. The same provision states that with the exception of institutions such as the Police, Fire and Rescue Service and Hospital Ambulance, all other vehicles must observe this.
In the Gambia, accident prone roads are Serekunda- Banjul Highway especially between Wadner Beach and the Christian Cemetery, Denton Bridge to Old Jeshwang Junction, Bertil Harding Highway, Kombo Coastal roads, Serekunda- Brikama Highway especially between Farato Market and Gambia College, Busumbala, Brikama to Mandinaba Road and the Trans-Gambia Highway. Research conducted on the road traffic accidents or crashes has shown that there are three major causes of road accidents, namely: human Factor, Mechanical Factor and environment factor.
Driver: Drivers often feel that they are masters of the vehicle and road. However, we all know that tyres, brakes and engine control the motion of the vehicle. Drivers merely operate the controls. Failure to ensure good working condition, as well as observing safe driving measures while on the road could result in road accidents.
Speeding: Some drivers believe that the faster they drive, the more they impress themselves and others. They however forget that anything can happen to the vehicle, such as burst tyres, brake failure or pedestrians running across the road.
Lack of concentration: Drivers often engage in things that distract their attention while driving. Such things include chatting with passengers, answering phone calls, eating, gesticulating, changing radio frequencies etc. This lack of concentration can be very dangerous as it takes only a moment for an accident to occur. A vehicle in front may stop abruptly or a child may run on to the road suddenly thereby causing danger. Be alert and always anticipate danger.
Tiredness and fatigue: Some drivers drive long distances without stopping a while to stretch their legs and improve blood circulation to supply the brain adequately. This makes the driver feel tired and sleepy. This is especially common amongst long distance drivers.
Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol: Being under the influence of drugs and alcohol can interfere with a person’s ability to drive safely. Sometimes drugs that are prescribed by Doctors have a sleep inducing effect on a driver. Coffee and cola nuts are stimulants that tend to increase the alertness of a driver. Other street drugs popularly taken by some drivers may be stimulants that may work for some time and then tiredness and sleep suddenly creeps in which could result in road traffic accidents. Alcohol can cause over-confidence, poor judgment, lack of coordination and recklessness. It is a major cause of road traffic accidents.
Poor vehicle care: Some drivers do not often check their vehicles to ensure that they are in good condition for the road before setting out on a journey. Tyres pressure, brake fluids and brake lights are often neglected. These lead to road traffic accidents.
Indescriminate parking: Parking vehicles in the middle of the road because of some sort of fault could lead to road traffic accidents especially at night or at bends or close to a hill where the vehicle cannot be seen from a distance by other road users.
Dangerous overtaking: This is responsible for a lot of accidents. Careless overtaking and poor judgment combine to cause RTAs. If you doubt your judgment, do not overtake.
Pedestrians: Pedestrians contribute to road traffic accidents by not observing road traffic rules and regulations. Some pedestrians cross roads without first ensuring that it safe to do so, others walk across the roads while busy on their phones.
Passengers: Passengers contribute to road traffic accidents by engaging the driver in discussions or arguments. Sometimes passengers show the interesting things inside or outside the vehicle; these distracts drivers from total concentration. Some often encourage over speeding, and dangerous practices. Remember, accidents claim the lives of more passengers than drivers.
Mechanical factors: These includes malfunctioning of engine, poor steering mechanism, brake failure, failed or bad wipers during rainy seasons, slippery roads, absence of rear view mirrors, defective horns, lack of seatbelt etc.
Environmental factors: It is generally believed that bad roads cause more accidents than good ones. Poorly constructed or maintained roads are the cause of many accidents. Other factors include improperly placed or absence of road traffic signs, pot holes, bad, narrow, rough, winding roads, heavy rains, harmattan haze, collapsed bridges fallen trees on road etc.
Practical accident preventive measures:
· Drivers of all motor vehicles when not in an emergency shall observe the speed limit when in residential areas.
· All drivers must drive or ride with due care and attention to all motor vehicle, cycles, carts, pedestrians and animals when on a public highway
· Drivers must at all times not drive dangerously on a public highway any vehicle of any description in a manner dangerous to other road users.
· Drivers must at all times avoid driving carelessly, dangerously or speedily when meeting, overtaking or approaching a bend, curve, intersection or hilly area.
· Drivers must avoid talking on mobile phones or texting while driving.
· Drivers must ensure proper parking while picking or dropping off passengers
· Persons crossing the road must look at both ends to ensure is safe before crossing of the road
· Pedestrians should be given the right to cross whenever possible
Rules to follow when involved in an accident
· The vehicle remains in its position until a police officer arrives
· Where an injury occurs, victims need to be speedily transported to the nearest health facility
· To notify the nearest police station as soon as possible giving the location and time of the accident
· To witness and sign the construction of the sketch plan of the accident for future reference
· To cooperate with the testing officers for a testing certificate to be issued in respect of the accident outlining the damages on the motor vehicle
· That any damages highlighted in the testing certificate is repaired before using that motor vehicle on the road
“Road traffic crashes do not result from fate or destiny- they are the product of systems and behaviour, and thus lend themselves to prevention and mitigation.” Kofi Annan (former UN Secretary General)