The inhabitants, drivers and commuters who regularly use the roads of the capital city of Banjul have been complaining about the poor state they are in for a long time now. Foroyaa has been highlighting their concerns as well as the response of the city council authorities on the situation of said roads since before the start of the rainy season with a view to getting the problem addressed.
During the interviews that this paper had with the Banjul City Council (BCC) Public Relation Officer (PRO), Mr. Dawda Jones, on the issue of roads, the council promised that construction works on the dilapidated roads in Banjul had already commenced but will be in full gear immediately after the end of the rains. He said the condition of the said roads is a concern to the municipality.
The complaints on the condition of the roads are still persisting as some of the users have again approached this paper to highlight the issue.
Views of drivers
Some commercial vehicle drivers, who ply the Banjul - Kombo route, are calling on the authorities to expedite the construction of the key roads which they normally use in Banjul as their vehicles are breaking down because of the bad condition roads in the capital city. The drivers said as road tax payers they are calling on the National Roads Authority (NRA), BCC and most especially the Gambia National Transport Control Association (GNTCA) which collects dues from them to support this road construction work.
Alieu Badjie, a van driver, said "there is no need to be talking about this issue again because all the stakeholders in this matter are fully aware of the situation we are facing."
He said everybody who goes to Banjul knows that the roads are in a deplorable state and need urgent attention, adding that the authorities do not appear to be giving the matter the urgency it deserves as the rainy season draws nearer.
Ousman Saidou Jallow, another commercial vehicle driver, made similar complaints regarding the lack of priority given to the Banjul roads which is costing them (drivers) dearly as their vehicles suffer frequent breakdowns because of the potholes and craters that dot the streets in Banjul. He said the only relatively good road in Banjul is restricted to the commercial vehicles that ply the Banjul-Serekunda and Banjul-Tabokoto stretch. He also called on the GNTCA to come to their aid in participating in the process of fixing the Banjul roads and making them motorable.
Other drivers namely Momodou Njie, Omar Ceesay and Abdou Conteh all lamented the condition of the roads in Banjul and the lack of urgency given to it by the concerned authorities.
Views of Commuters
Mr. Ousman Conteh, a vendor at the Albert market who commutes from Serekunda to Banjul every day, said the bad condition of the Banjul roads is negatively impacting on him in terms of his business as he always arrives late at the market due to transportation difficulties. He said the bad roads in Banjul is a disincentive to many commercial van drivers as they would prefer to stay on the Tabokoto-West Field route or even Old Jeshwang rather than go to the capital to subject their vehicles to wear and tear. He added that the difficulty in getting transport to Banjul also discourages many potential customers who do not want to undergo the hassle to go to Banjul, to and fro.
Mr. Sisay, a civil servant, expressed his concern on the state of the roads in Banjul, arguing that it impedes productivity in both the administrative and economic or business sectors. He said Banjul as the seat of government and center of business with the major port should be a place that has very good roads to facilitate easy communication. He said the City Council as it is under its jurisdiction should take the lead in involving all the stakeholders including the government to address the problems of the city roads as a matter of urgency.
"I read the Foroyaa interview with the BCC PRO 2012 on the same issue when he gave the opinion that work on the roads was delayed by the rainy season but promised that progress will be made as soon as the rains end," he said.
A restaurant owner on one of the streets used by the commercial vans also complained about the dust that invades his place every time a vehicle passes by. He said this pollution does sometimes drive away his customers. He said the only thing he now sees is to soak the streets with water from time to time. He called on the authorities to expedite the construction work on the roads.
Views of the Residents
The inhabitants of Banjul are equally complaining about the deplorable state of the roads with its attendant health implications. The ones who are complaining most are those who live in the main streets which the commercials use to enter and leave the city.
One of the residents explained that the dust that follows the vehicles especially the speeding ones does not only pose a threat to their health after inhalation but also cover their roofs, windows, bedspreads, jars, furniture and anything inside the houses.
Buba Singhateh said it is the duty of the elected National Assembly members representing Banjul to raise these concerns and engage the government and municipal authorities to address this issue which is of great concern to not only the inhabitants of Banjul but civil servants, business operators and many people who come to the capital city for their own personal or other transactions.
Bintou Sanyang, Hulaymatou Saine, Colley Sumbundu and Alhagie Ousman Sey have all reiterated similar concerns and called on the authorities namely the central government, BCC, National Assembly members and the drivers association and union to address the problem of the roads in Banjul for the benefit of all.
The Response of BCC PRO
Mr. Dawda Jones, the spokesperson for the Banjul City Council, when approached again to convey the concerns of the various users of the roads in Banjul, said his Council has less to say on the issue now. He said that even though the concerned roads are within the jurisdiction of his municipality the issue is purely a matter for the National Road Authority (NRA). He referred this reporter to the NRA for further clarification on the issue.
This paper will approach the NRA, GNTCA and the transport union to hear their version on the issue.