By Nelson Manneh
Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) has on Monday raised concern over the spike in the cases of crimes including burglary, armed robbery and murder in The Gambia.
GDC in a press release issued by the party’s Secretary-General/Party-Leader,
Mamma Kandeh, indicated that the issue of massive tons of illicit drugs or narcotics being intercepted in the country as well as at some of our border posts is not just alarming; but disturbing considering the dangerous consequences of the presence of these drugs in our society. According to GDC, officers of DLEAG recently confiscated more than 2 tons of cocaine with an estimated street value of more than $80-million US dollars (4.5 billion dalasis) at Banjul Seaport on 7th January 2021.
They said: “In another development, large quantities of suspicious medicinal drugs being moved from The Gambia were intercepted and seized at the Keur Ayib, Gambia-Senegal border post.”
The release stated narcotics entering the country are capable of engineering violence in our society at an unprecedented rate and, not the least, fostering the breeding of criminal groups, insurgents and terrorists along with the devastating consequences they have on the health and security sectors as has been experienced by some of our sister nations.
“It is a well-known fact that in recent years, the Latin American drug cartels appear to have shifted their attention to supplying the lucrative European market by developing networks in West Africa and our country is now their focal point with the aid of some local collaborators who they pay in both cash and drugs such as cocaine, while creating a local consumer market for the drug,” it stated.
“We may not be able to appreciate the social and economic impact as well as the attendant human costs the presence of these drugs in our midst is having on the country’s economy. Basically, all the money earned from criminal activities such as drug trafficking has to be laundered. Once the money-laundering channels are created, it is inevitable that they will be used to conceal the gains obtained from all kinds of criminal activities in the future. These economic and financial consequences of the drug trade make any possible economic benefits for the community, other than those the narcotic trade itself may bring, harder to see.”
It further stated that presently, in the country, at the social level, domestic drug use is growing, with the resultant addiction and violent crime; addiction to cocaine for instance, and especially crack, is reportedly rampant.
“From a long-term perspective, the attraction of the drug trade for our disenfranchised youth may undermine social control mechanisms that prevent crime and violence. So far, our youth faced with unemployment and few opportunities are being largely drawn to both the drug trade and its attendant use.
In our present-day society where over 65% of the population live below the national poverty line, and 80% of the poor are between 18 and 35 years old, and unemployment is pervasive makes our youth vulnerable to the evil effects of the growing spate of drug entry into the country. And if this is not properly checked, the future of this nation may be doomed.
“Another very worrying scenario is the stunning growth in violent crimes and lawlessness in the country. The 2020 annual report produced by the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) in conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Banjul assessed The Gambia as being a HIGH-threat location for crime. But, what is more, troubling is that, since 2020, the growing wave of serious crimes; murder, armed robberies, human trafficking, and drug smuggling in the country has grown astronomically far above the rate identified last year. This provokes a serious cause for concern, especially in the effectiveness of the political will of the government in power to combat crimes and insecurity in the land.
In April and May 2021, there were countless cases of robbery with arms in various locations of the country and it is almost becoming a norm,” it stated.
GDC said last April, a grade 12 female student Marie Mendy was gruesomely murdered. In another development, the Gambian Police Force is investigating a case of the suspected murder of one Marang Jaw of Mandinaring Village in the West Coast Region which occurred on the 11th May 2021.
According to GDC, the rate of crime in the New Gambia is scary.
They said: “This calls for an awakening of the required political will to track the root of these crimes by empowering the nation’s national security apparatus particularly at the points of entry into the country with the needed infrastructure and morale, strengthening the cooperation of the surrounding sister-nations to enhance a tighter border control mechanism and above all increasing opportunities of employment for our young people which can help in making the crime rate fall.
“Employment opportunities can be increased by opening the doors to small-scale industries for our youth. It will make them gainfully busy in productive work which will decrease their predisposition towards crime. There is also a great need to combat the menace of poverty in the country which relates to ear-marking deliberate policies for economic empowerment of the masses.”
They said they hope that the government of The Gambia will listen to the growing list of outcries from among our people over the painful and pathetic situation that we face today as a people.