By Momodou Jarju
The Commissioner of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) Adeline Basangeh, has joined dozens of Police Officers within the Kanifing Municipality and West Coast Region, to disclose the many problems they are confronted with in the course of executing their job.
Commissioner Basangeh said the absence of effective communication, good accommodation and insufficient mobility among others, hinders their work as public order managers as well as VIP protection officers.
Basangeh said they do not have communication gadgets such as radio sets; that this makes it difficult for them during operations; that the breakdown of communication is a challenge that needs to be looked at.
“When there is an operation, I communicate to my officer(s) in the field by using a mobile phone and when the person is in a noisy place, he cannot hear the ringing of my call,” he said. Adeline Basangeh told members of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence and Security during their five-day tour. He further told them that the Police need to be mobile in order to execute their work efficiently.
“The police are not to be stationed. We have to be mobile because the crimes are committed in communities. So how do we get there?” he queried. The PIU Commissioner also explained that in many areas, Police Stations are located in rented buildings; that some of these areas are not ideally secure places because they are exposed.
On uniforms, the PIU Commissioner said most of the uniforms they wear was bought by them; that it takes time before they are supplied with uniform; that a uniform is expensive because a complete set amounts to D1, 000 or more. He said officers often sustain serious injuries during operation, but little is done to remedy their situation afterwards.
“We are supposed to be operating with equipment that can contain any violent situation without loss of life. Rifles are the nonlethal weapons and equipment needed for this unit,” he said.
Commissioner Basangeh said his unit comprises 789 officers and every month they receive 55 bags of rice and D100, 000 as impress to buy fish, chicken and other food items. The money, he said is not enough to provide them with quality food; that the impress also comes very late.
“The impress comes very late. This month, we received it on the 19th. So how do we take care of our people?” he asked, adding that they receive the money from the Finance Ministry.
Asked whether they were informed of the budget allocation for 2020, Commissioner Basangeh responded in the negative, saying they have not seen any difference in their pay slip this year.
He said they receive house rent and transport allowance of D150 and D1, 000 respectively per month, but are not paid overtime yet; that apart from transport and house rent allowances; they get visual allowance for D480.
He said the PIU is the armed wing of the Gambia Police Force (GPF) and it is the only Unit in the GPF authorized to carry arms either lethal or nonlethal; that the Unit spreads across the country and their main duty is public order management and VIP protection in this new dispensation.
e have also taken over the tourism security unit,” he said.
Commissioner Alhagie Kinteh in charge of the Police Medical Services said the Police should get a better medical facility to be able to treat both Police Officers and the general public; that this can greatly enhance Police and civil relationship.
He said the only clinic they have at the Unit is in a sorry state and drug supply is not enough.
Deputy Commissioner of the PIU Lamin Bojang, said they face challenges on storage of ammunition particularly those at rented Police Stations; that they have few vehicles and some of which are not serviceable.
On the issue of health risks face by the officers, Bojang said they need health insurance to commensurate with their work; that they need an ideal PIU base that looks like a barracks where the officers can live to ease their operations especially during emergencies when there is the need to mobilize themselves with immediacy.
On his part Dawda Kawsu Jawara, a Member of the NA Committee said the situation that the Police and other security forces endure cannot continue; that they have approved a huge amount of money for the security sector but there is no impact shown. He indicated that the country needs to look inwards and ask itself the kind of security it needs and try to add up to the highest levels.
The Chairperson of the Committee, who is also the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Momodou L.K. Sanneh, informed PIU Officials that they will seriously look into their concerns. He however said changing the situation will not be automatic but assured them that the committee will do its best to ameliorate their situation; that the Committee will engage the Minister of the Interior to engage all stakeholders during budget preparation, arguing that the PIU can even defend their budget better than a Permanent Secretary because they know the problems they are grappling with.