The Point (Banjul)

20 February 2013

Gambia: The Gambia At 48!

opinion

The Gambia celebrated the 48th anniversary of independence from the yoke of British colonial rule on Monday 18th February 2013.

As celebrations continue throughout the country, we ask the Government to continue improving the standard of living of all Gambians.

Among others, this requires that the government should make farmers to feel that their produce will be bought at the end of the day, and not otherwise.

This will encourage them to engage more seriously in agricultural production.

At the international level, we need to work hard on our relations with other ECOWAS countries by opening a dialogue with them to thrash out any misunderstandings.

On the human rights front, the issues are numerous, including the fact of people being remanded without trial for an unduly long time, which needs to be addressed. The same applies to the matter of people acquitted and discharged by courts only to be re-arrested.

We also reiterate suggestions that the amendments to the laws which adversely affect the operations of the media and work of journalists in The Gambia, such as the recent amendments to the Criminal Code and the Newspaper Act, should be repealed without delay.

Government should further widen its doors to all the independent press and, more importantly, we request that the stalled investigation into the needless and brutal murder of Deyda Hydara on 16 December 2004 be resumed.

As Gambians, we must all try to respect and promote human rights, and the rule of law, as well as work to enhance the role of women in our society.

With the rainy season approaching, the authorities must redouble efforts to pave more roads and to repair those which have fallen into disrepair.

The public transport sector must be revived, to ease the transport difficulties being experienced by commuters and school children on a daily basis, especially now with the introduction of the new working hours and days.

NAWEC should install Cashpower meters in every Gambian home, by completing the exercise they have started, to avoid disputes over high bills, and allow people to better manage their finances and budgets. This will also save NAWEC from being owed huge sums of money by consumers.

The Government must tailor the new business registration system and the taxation system so as to not only to attract foreign private investment, but also to foster entrepreneurship in young, dynamic and well-educated Gambians.

Indeed, a vibrant economic culture will give Gambians living and working abroad the opportunity to return to our shores, bringing with them the knowledge, training and expertise they have gained in Europe and the United States.

Meanwhile, the improvements we have seen in the health and other sectors must continue apace, aware that the moment we rest on our laurels, we will begin to slip backwards.

While we may be reaching the target of providing access under the Millennium Development Goals in education, there remains the issue of the quality of education, especially in public schools.

This, we believe, is also linked to the burning issue of teachers pay, which is a critical factor for attracting and keeping Gambians in the teaching field.

There is also the problem of illegal migration, which calls for upping the ante in the fight against this scourge. The young people of The Gambia must be given access to training of every kind, but an increase in the availability of technical training would be particularly effective. This might encourage the young to stay at home, and be self-employed.

On this our 48th anniversary of nationhood, we thank and congratulate everybody who has played a role in bringing The Gambia to this stage.

In this regard, we recall the contribution of those of our leaders who lived through the pre-independence struggle up to the period of self determination, and the birth of the Republic, in April 1970, when Gambians in a referendum voted overwhelmingly for the supremacy of the sovereignty of the people, and rejected any form of monarchical rule.

Long live The Republic of The Gambia!

"Without moral and intellectual independence, there is no anchor for national independence".

David Ben-Gurion

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