By Momodou Darboe
The United Democratic Party has said the carefree and lackadaisical public attitude towards Covid-19 was as a consequence of the lethargy on the part of the government when it comes to measures that were necessary to prevent the country from its current Covid-19 experience.
The UDP is convinced that the increase in the number of Covid-19 positive cases and deaths in the country could have been forestalled had the government strictly enforced the necessary control measures.
“I think the public took the cue from the leadership,” Taal told The Standard in an interview. He added:“Government itself has been very lethargic when it comes to all the measures that are necessary for us to not have reached this point because, for a very long time, the infection rate was very insignificant. There were time people were beginning to feel very relaxed. But instead of looking for the real solutions and real answers, we have just every seven days a declaration of state of emergency that nobody follows, observe. So the question of enforcement, implementation …the institutions around the government, especially the security that are supposed to enforce the laws of this country have been playing this populist games…having social media pictures of people without proper uniforms on the roads, trying to conduct traffic.”
The UDP warned that if Covid-19 can take down the country’s vice president, cabinet ministers and senior government functionaries, every Gambian must be concerned about stopping the virus on its path to further spread.
The party stressed that Corona virus is a serious disease which requires serious strategies to combat.
“I really think if you have a country’s vice president infected [with Covid-19] and high ministers of government, high government officials passing away and prominent Gambian citizens also coming [into contact] with this virus, I really think every Gambian must be concerned about stopping this crisis now and here,” UDP spokesman Almamy Taal stressed.
He went on: “It is not the time to start talking about UDP position or personal satisfaction.
Nobody can be satisfied with the situation. We have heard opportunities to deal with this issue comprehensively as possible. Couple of months ago, we had a very prominent Gambian, Alhasan Senghore, appointed as overseer and for some reason, he was unable to do the job he was asked to do and since then, I don’t think there is any confident head of the process of embarking in this very deadly pandemic. There are so many things that need to happen, be done and every Gambia has a responsibility to ask these questions and has a responsibility to hold all of us in charge of public affairs come tomorrow because, I mean, if the vice president of a country is quarantined, so is the president and so are ministers, really I don’t think you can go higher than that.”
According to Taal, Corona virus is a serious disease that requires serious control strategies, adding that the virus transcends party lines and must be given a national character.
“We need to be very serious in the strategies we are putting across,” he cautioned. “And we should stop thinking about what UDP thinks or what any other political party thinks. It is a national crisis and it must be given a national character so as to solve the problem as soon as possible.It is important to come up with strategies to try and turn things around. This is a national catastrophe which has reached a level where we really need credible options.”
Taal said the government needs to be surgical in any process of declaring a lockdown or an emergency in order to achieve tangible and desired outcomes.
“I think the question of a lock-down or partial lockdown are all necessary considered within the context of where is the hotspot, where are the factors that are making the numbers go up and if we are able to pinpoint that out, we need to have a clear strategy to deal with that,” he advised.
He concluded: “We need to be surgical in this process otherwise what will happen is that you will have an emergency declaration, lockdown and all these things but you will still have the same results…increase in number of cases, fatalities. So what is necessary at the moment is to find scientifically what is making the numbers go up. If we can identify that…yes maybe necessary to have a lockdown, maybe in Greater Banjul Area, maybe necessary to have a lockdown in Brusubi, Serekunda, Bakau wherever evidence points us, we can take measures.”