Admittedly, there has been some level of improvement on the condition of the roads in The Gambia recently. Many new roads have been or are being built and others have undergone some maintenance and this has somewhat improved the level, if a little bit.
However, the slow pace at which some of these roads are being built leaves a lot to be desired. The National Roads Authority (NRA) has been engaged in building some new roads especially those that are due to the upcoming gathering of the Organization of Islamic Coopperation (OIC). This project involves the building of many kilometers of roads in sometimes very narrow areas.
The pace at which these roads are being built has been a cause for concern as it brings commuters a lot of troubles especially the one that stretches from the airport junction towards the Brusubi Turntable and to Senegambia Hotel area. On this road, there are some flyovers which appear to be poorly located. A lot of time – which means money and resources – is wasted on these roads.
Add to this, the sometimes-total lack of discipline, or knowhow, of some of the drivers. Commuters complain that some of the commercial drivers do not give consideration to their passengers and a lot of quarrels therefore go on in these commercial vehicles. Anytime a commuter observes what they feel to be reckless driving and they wish to alert the driver, a quarrel ensues.
During the dry season these roads used to be so dusty that once one passes through, one needed to immediately have a bath before socializing with anyone. Now that the rains are here, it has become worse as pedestrians suffer mud being splashed on them especially by some unruly drivers.
But, the more serious problem caused by the poor condition of these roads is the increase in road accidents. Many lives are lost on our roads as some drivers are reckless, the roads are not in a good condition and therefore accidents tend to occur too often.
One of the things that need to be done is to look into the process of licensing critically as we often see drivers who are perhaps too young to have a license or are not properly trained. This is something that needs to be done with some matter of urgency as many people are losing lives or limbs to these.
The National Roads Authority must hasten the work so that the roads will not only be accessible to road users, but safe as well. A lot of sensitization needs to be done as well so that awareness will increase and maybe that will have an impact on the problems commuter encounter on the roads.
Another important thing the National Roads Authority should be doing is informing the public, drivers more so, which roads are open and usable. If the radios are used to inform drivers which roads are open and safe to drive on during the early hours of the day, a lot of the congestions could be avoided.