In a bid to make our roads safer for everyone amid seemingly endless road traffic accidents, some of which turned out to be fatal, the Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure (MoTWI), the National Youth Parliament (NYP) and The Students Association of Public Health and Environmental Health (SAPEH) of the University of The Gambia, recently organised at Metzy Hotel in Kololi, a day-long forum on road safety; on the theme: ‘Making a clarion call for action to remedy the national road safety crises’.
The forum brought together different stakeholders in the transporting system of the country; such as The Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure, the National Roads Authority, the Police, Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, Transport Union and other NGO’s that are into road safety. I was meant to enable brainstorm over ways and means of tackling the increasingly high number of road traffic accidents on our roads, from Banjul to Koina.
Mod K. Ceesay, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure, said in 2021 alone, The Gambia Police Force, recorded 620 minor or non-injuries, 349 serious injuries, 138 fatal roads traffic accidents with significant damage to vehicles and properties.
According to him, The Gambia like many other countries is faced with challenges of road safety as the population is significantly growing in numbers. These he highlighted include the raise in motor vehicles and the degenerating conditions of our roads, resulting to increased road traffic accidents, particularly in the urban metropolis and beyond.
“While this is not negative in its very nature, the road traffic system plus road user attitude in our network remains a challenge; and as such people are killed or seriously injured on the road,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary explained that road traffic injury is an issue which inappropriately affects the poor and the most vulnerable members of the society. This, he added is a significant cause of death and disability and generate economical loss over two billion dollars globally each year and over 1.3 million causalities each year.
Ousman Sillah, National Assembly member for Banjul North, said road usage is everyone’s business and therefore, described the event as very important and he urged the young people of this country to take up the challenges and contribute their quota to the socio-economic developments of this country. “At the level of The National Assembly, we are open for any discussions on traffic matters so as to better our roads and protect the lives of every Gambian,” he said.
Honorable Sillah finally called on all to put hands together and make our roads safer; especially the drivers, cautioning them to always drive safely and be on the alert always.
Omar Cham, Speaker of the National Youth Parliament (NYP), said motor traffic accident does not only involve those on vehicles but also those on foot. He therefore called on everyone to put up ways and means to drastically reduce accidents on our roads, some of which he said are fatal in most of the times.
“Just few weeks ago, I read a report of the World Health Origination (WHO), which ranked the Gambia fifth in Africa when it comes to worst road traffic accidents. This is not a one man show or an institution’s. It requires every Gambian’s involvement to make our roads safe and better. Collectively we can reverse this worrying trend,” he remarked.