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GAMBIA: HOW CONCERNED IS GOVERNMENT FOR THE SAFETY OF GAMBIANS? – DEMBA ALI JAWO

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The government of the Gambia has clearly demonstrated its apparent lack of concern for the safety and welfare of the people of this country, especially those who regularly cross the Banjul/Barra crossing.
We are all witnesses to the problems currently being encountered by people living in the North Bank Region who frequently cross to and from Banjul for work and other business, due mainly to the frequent breakdown of the aging fleet of ferries.
We can recall that in 2019, President Adama Barrow promised Gambians that his government had plans to bridge the 7-kilometer crossing, indicating that the process was to start within a few months.
During one of his Meet the People’s Tour, he told the people of Niumi; “The foundation stone will be laid in 2019 and works will take four years to complete’’.
The announcement was received with a lot of joy and anticipation, particularly those living in the North Bank Region, who sometimes face quite challenging times to cross to and from Banjul. However, it is more than five years since he made that promise and there is no indication that the promise would ever be fulfilled.
To add to the predicament of the people of the North Bank, virtually all the ferries are currently out of service and the people are left with hardly any choice but to make the dangerous crossing by dug-out canoes.
Of course the canoes are owned by private individuals, but it would have certainly made more sense if the government had shown interest in their operations, at least for the safety and comfort of the people who use their services on a daily basis. However, the Gambian authorities seem not to be interested in how those canoes operate. A good case in point is the fact that these canoes still do not have landing sites but instead their passengers depend on strong men and boys to be lifting them up to take them on or off the canoes. That is indeed a shame on the Gambian authorities that at this time, more than 58 years of independence, our people are still being subjected to such stone-age activities. It is indeed quite hard to understand why the authorities concerned continue to cast a blind eye to such a situation. It would have made quite a lot of sense even if the government had constructed landing sites and get the canoe owners to pay for their use. In that case, they would have not only made the use of the canoes safer, but they would have also demonstrated their concern for the safety and comfort of the people.

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