Whoever is responsible for building or expanding the Gambia’s main highways or even new ones to ease pressure on the existing ones, needs to do a very fast job.
This is because the current traffic jam on our roads is by all standard a nightmare of monumental nature, inimical to the health of vehicles, drivers and passengers alike. A journey by car which should last for 30 minutes now takes over three hours on some roads notably the Serekunda-Brikama Highway. During peak hours, and there is hardly any lull, entering West field from Banjul is the introduction to hell. Cars can only run bumper to bumper in excessive heat and chaotic scenes.
Sometimes even the intervention of police traffic personnel seems to bring more problems than solutions especially if they choose to mount annoying random check points.
But for the many users of this road, the hardship actually climaxes between Tallinding and Tabotoko. There, traffic gets sometimes too thick and deadly slow that many car engines over heat, because the fans don’t have speed to cool the nonstop running engines, while others simply cough to a standstill. The drivers’ nightmare is also shared with passengers. A civil servant working in Banjul from Brikama must leave his or her house by latest 6am and can only get back home at 8pm or later. School children, traders and even leisure travellers suffer similar fate. For example, passengers who are unlucky to have felt the need to go to toilet would have to involuntarily abandon the cars there, and travel on to look for sometimes unavailable toilets in the neighbourhood of the highway. Worst still, anybody unlucky to develop a medical emergency in that horrific traffic is doomed because there is simply no way to access help any faster.
And with similar situations on all major roads, example the Traffic Lights –Turntable -Costa Road, the traveller is trapped with no diversions or by-ways to avoid the deadly jam on the roads.
In our view, the problems lie in the fact that though The Gambia has a small population, there is currently an acute lack of motorable roads. Roads, like many aspects of development, are planned well ahead of their real time need. In our case, our population has outgrown our roads and the only solution is a massive construction of new ones and expansion of existing ones.
If all the millions wasted under the last two governments have been put into good use, roads would have been little of our worries now. While it can be argued that the Jammeh regime did far better than Jawara in this area, the fact remains that Jammeh had more resources earned and wasted than Jawara. The lessons the present government should learn from those before it, is to prioritise road construction not just as a tangible evidence for their electioneering ambition but as means of easing travelling and life for Gambians who are the owners of the resources in the first place. It is therefore very welcoming and assuring that the Gambia will get a massive project for roads under the much talked-about OIC programme.
The earlier that project materialises the better for the materialises the better for the many motorists and commuters in the Great Banjul Area.