By Nelson Manneh/Louis Jobe
The Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure (MoTWI) together with partners and stakeholders, last week held a consultative forum on the formulation of a National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS).
Since the beginning of the Year 2019, numerous road accidents have occurred claiming the lives of many people. The actual cause of many of these accidents, have been confirmed by the Gambia Police Force as over speeding by some drivers. The consultative forum came about after the Ministry of Works secured assistance from the Sub-Saharan Africa Transport Policy Program (SSATPP) to develop road safety strategies for the Gambia.
Louis Moses Mendy DPS in charge of Administration and Finance at the Ministry of Works, said the consultative forum is a process and when completed, will mark another milestone in the Gambia’s Road Safety endeavours; that the Strategy Policy came at a time when they are just updating the national transport policy in which the road safety policy is embedded.
Mendy said for any Government to deliver on road safety improvement efforts, it must formulate the requisite road safety policies and clear strategies to guide and set the standards in delivering her long-term road safety objectives.
“The Ministry thought it prudent to formulate NRSS with clear targets after successfully updating the National Transport Policy (NTP),” he said; that it is evident that road traffic accidents are serious global problems that need urgent action.
He said the socio-economic cost of road traumas for the Gambia in 2013, has been estimated at 63.5 million USD which is over D 2 Billion and is likely to increase significantly; that deaths and injuries still increase on our roads and both victims and survivors are mostly young people who leave families behind, to manage with the loss of a breadwinner. He said in the Gambia, the victims of road accidents are mostly pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. “It is disheartening to learn that most of these deaths, injuries, and economic losses can be prevented by an established set of interventions that can contribute to significant reductions in the incidence and impact of road traffic injuries. The Gambia is aspiring to be one of such countries and we will surely reach there,” he said.
Martin Small, a Road Safety Consultant for the Africa Transport Policy Program said the Gambia is fighting a problem which is similar to many other countries in Africa, with the advent of a significant increase in vehicles and people. “This forum is meant to develop road safety policy for the Gambia,” he said.
Small said the message is for both Government and stakeholders to stick together and deliver changes to improve road safety so that road users will not be afraid of being knocked down by vehicles.
“It is very important for all drivers to be careful with their speed limits. Drivers should not get drunk and drive. It is very important for everybody to put on their vehicle seat belts and to stop using mobile phones when driving,” he concluded.