By: Kebba AF Touray
Yankuba Sonko, the Minister of Interior, has disclosed to the National Assembly that two thousand two hundred and nineteen (2, 219) road accidents have been registered from 2018 to the first quarter of 2021.
Minister Sonko said this in response to Tumana lawmaker, Foday NM Drammeh, who asked him to give statistical data of road accidents that occurred in the past four years and the reasons for such accidents.
“The accident data for the past four years is as follows, in 2018, 775 accidents, 2019 515 accidents, in 2020 787 accidents and in the first quarter of this year 142 road accidents occurred,” he said.
Generally, he said road accidents are attributed to several factors such as the condition of roads, vehicles and attitudes of drivers such as negligence, reckless driving, dangerous driving attitude, driving under the influence of alcohol, neglecting traffic sign boards, over speeding and use of mobile phones while driving.
He informed the assembly that his Ministry, through the Inspector General of Police, is working hard to reduce road accidents and has developed measures such as replacement of traffic cones to serve as indicators for speed limit in sharp and bent junctions, ongoing public sensitization on road safety for drivers, pedestrians and other road users, on Polizo FM, GRTS and other private radio stations, ongoing installation of CCTV cameras on strategic places to record traffic offences and bring them to book, among others to curb the menace.
“My Ministry in collaboration with the Transport Ministry has established the national committee on road safety and it is housed at the Ministry of Transport. This aims to coordinate the road safety initiative as mentioned above,” he said.
He said his ministry continues to engage the National Road Authority for the construction of speed bumps, erection of road signs and making of roads.
Member for Janjanbureh asked: “Are you considering the issuance of licenses to minors because a lot of them are driving”.
Minister Sonko said their system is such that if one puts a minor for the acquisition of license, the system will automatically stop and that whoever is below the required age will be rejected by the system.
Member for Bakau, Assan Touray, asked the Minister the plans of his ministry to put a stop to petty crimes and assaults in the neighborhoods and other public places, adding that it is a public threat and is imminent.
“The country has witnessed an increase in crime with certain public places turned into criminal hideouts, which sends the nation into panic mode. To address the situation, Operation Zero Crime (OZC) has been launched to target criminal hideouts within Banjul, Kanifing and West Coast,” he said.
He said with the acquisition of more funds from the government, the operation was later expanded to other regions and that the positive outcomes of the OZC is its contribution to the reduction of crimes, as daily incident reports show gradual decline in the total number of criminal cases reported at police stations.
Sonko added that other mechanisms have been deployed to improve public safety and eradicate fear, including strengthening community policing strategy, targeting schools and communities, and police stations have increased visibility in public institutions.
“Since the inception of OZC to date, I wish to inform you that several arrests have been made. After a thorough screening some of the arrested persons were released due to insufficient evidence and others referred to Immigration and Drug Law Enforcement Agency for further investigative actions, while the remaining suspects to criminal offences are handled by the police and prosecution has since commenced,” he said.
Madi Ceesay, Serrekunda West lawmaker, asked the Minister to give a comprehensive record of all the murder/manslaughter cases from June 2020 to end May 2021, and how many of the cases are in court.
Interior Minister Sonko replied: “32 suspected murder cases were reported in stations within the country from June 202 to end May 2021. Out of the 32 suspected murder cases, 3 cases were convicted 15 cases under investigation, (9 without suspects and 6 are with suspects) and 14 cases are pending in court trail.”
He emphasized that in short, out of the 32 cases, 17 cases have been put before the court with 3 convicted cases and 14 pending cases.
Ceesay further asked the Minister to inform the assembly the number of armed robbery cases reported to his Ministry, and if any, how much recoveries have been made in terms of cash and materials.
He said: “23 Armed Robbery Cases have been reported from June 2020 to 31st May 2021. The following items were recovered during the period, a Mercedes benz, D258,000, CFA300,000, 70 British Pound Sterling, 440 Canadian Dollar, EUR250, US$500 and several mobile phones.”