Commuting on the main roads on weekdays, one can easily notice hundreds of schoolchildren in uniform struggling for lift to go to school either in Banjul or other towns where their various schools are located. Many of them suffer a lot just to reach their schools, some even end up being late for school.
This problem is exacerbated by many different but related factors which can be easily addressed with proper planning. For instance, the lack of adequate school buses is one of the main reasons why these children undergo these difficulties because they can’t get to school on time.
The second problem that contributes to this problem is perhaps the expensive fares that one has to pay to reach any destination within the Greater Banjul Area. This is because the commercial drivers are not satisfied with the government tariffs on fares and as such, have found a way of making money by not plying straight routes to the various destinations in the country.
For instance, from Tabokoto, drivers will claim that they are stopping at Latrikunda and when they reach Latrikunda they will load for Westfield. From Westfield they will now load for Banjul. The same thing happens on the return trip as well. Thus, a child whose parents can only afford, (or have only given him or her) one fare will be left stranded.
The other aspect of the problem is that some private vehicles, especially those of government functionaries, hardly give lift to these children. They will be on the road sometimes for hours without getting a lift to go to school. Thus, they end up being late and in some extreme cases, change their minds and go home instead.
These are the children who are supposed to take over the mantle of leadership of this country in the future and should therefore be assisted to get the education they will require to lead the country. Why can’t there be plans to help them reach their schools on time so that they can seek knowledge now?
The Government of the Gambia could – and should – invest heavily in the provision of school buses so that these children will have the chance to go to school. This investment will certainly pay dividend when the children acquire the required education to run the affairs of the nation in the near future.
Secondly, the Governemnt though the ministry of Transport could engage the Transport Union to find a way to harmonise the fares in a way that will not disadvantage either the drivers or the commuters.
Thirdly, all Government officials who are plying the route at the time of going to or closing of school should help and give lift to these kids as they are the future of the nation. This will help ameliorate the difficulty of the children.