Government Renews Road Clearing Exercise, Threatens to Prosecute Violators

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By Mustapha Jallow 

The National Road Authority in collaboration with the Gambia Police Force, the Department of Physical Planning and the Gambia Armed Forces, on Thursday launched another fresh crackdown on street vending in the Greater Banjul Area ahead of Tobaski. 

The police have confirmed that they will prosecute anyone arrested for selling in the streets.

Some vendors were recently arrested and are being processed as they await prosecution.

So far, few individuals have been booked at the Serekunda Police Station. The Police PRO confirmed the report. Security forces seized fruits {mainly mangoes}, other goods, and banana boxes away. They were thrown into an army truck guarded by armed soldiers. 

Bakary Manneh, the man leading the road clearing operation said: “The roads or streets need to be cleared.”

 Binta Jassey, who has been selling along streets for decades, said she feeds her children from the income she gets from street vending. She decried that the operation launched by the government left her jobless and hopeless.

“We are not animals. We should be treated like humans,” said Jassey, adding “We are also poor people, who are looking for means of survival and to pay our bills.”

Enforcement personnel were seen patrolling the streets from Serekunda to Westfield round-about accompanied by armed soldiers and police officers. 

Low-income earners see the street as a place they have to go to, sell their goods and generate income for their survival, but for the Government, vendors should not sell along the roads.

“Since the start of the roads clearing exercise months ago, we have realised that people have stationed themselves illegally in the streets. So, we agreed that we need to re-clear the streets — because we need to ensure that the roads are safe and vehicles’ movements are not hindered by anything,” said Manneh. 

Manneh said despite the summons and seizure of goods from vendors, people still sell in the streets. 

At Westfield near the Alvihag supermarket, law enforcers confiscated a big cooler filled with water, belts and a container belonging to a coffee seller.

The team leader, Manneh, threatened that they would arrest any person found violating the order against selling along the roads otherwise known as street vending; adding violators would be arraigned before a court of law.

He highlighted that they have plans in place to deter vendors from reoccupying the streets.

“There are plans we are trying to implement — that would stop people from selling in prohibited areas {streets},” he said. 

He did not mention the plans. Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police Modou Musa Sisawo, the spokesperson for the Gambia Police Force, said many of the vendors were warned against selling in the streets, but they still violate the order against vending along the roads. 

He said they would now prosecute anyone found selling in prohibited areas in order to deter others from vending in the streets.

 “These seized mangoes and other items are evidence to be tendered in a court of law,” PRO Sisawo said.

Meanwhile, Sisawo confirmed that some arrests were made during the re-launch of the operation, but he could not confirm the number of people booked so far. The seized fruits and other items were taken to Serrekunda police station. The exercise will continue today within the Greater Banjul Area.