14 August 2018

Gambia: Life of the Rural People Gambia @ 53 Makng Rural Gambia Conducive to Human Habitation Part Eight (Roads)

This Column is meant to monitor and report on issues that concerns the people of the rural communities, in terms of how their development is hindered or facilitated.

Rural development is a process that aims to improve the standard of living of people, living in rural communities.

According to Robert chambers, rural development is a strategy that enables a specific group of people, poor rural women and men, gain for themselves and their children, more of what they want and need.

It involves helping the poorest among those who seek a livelihood in rural communities, to demand and control more of the benefits of rural development. The group includes small scale farmers, tenants and the landless. Thus, the term rural development may be used to imply any one of the above-mentioned connotations.

A Patient been Transported to hospital on bicycle

To avoid the ineffective floundering among the myriad of definitions, we shall define rural development as a process leading to the sustainable improvement in the quality of life of rural people, especially the poor.

According to Lamin Sambou Kinteh, for rural development to be meaningful and realizable, the trinity of development must be present such as electricity, water and rural infrastructural development like roads, industries, schools, health facilities, etc.

The people of Sabach Sanjal District have again raised their voices on the poor road network in their District, during a visit to the area by this Columnist in the month of July 2018.

According to the people of the District, it is a nightmare travelling to villages that are off the Farafenni / Laminkoto highway, due to the unmotorable situation of the roads. Commenting on the issue, Mamudou Jallow pointed out that the feeder road that stretches from Sabach Soukoto to Bambali, was built by the EDF in the late 70s and since then, the road has not been maintained or re-constructed. This road he said, is unmotorable particularly during this rainy season.

Jallow ponted out that good road network, facilitates the movement of people, allowing their social interaction within the District; but that in their case, they are completely left behind.

Demba Sowe informed this Columnist that due to the unmotorable situation of the roads in the District, drivers only stop at strategic points like Dibba Kunda, Secken or NGayen and the passengers who live in villages like Sinchu Pallen and have goods to transport, have to hire a donkey or horse cart to transport them.

This hiring of donkey or horse cart, Sowe said, increases the prices of the goods which is passed on to the consumers.

"A good road network is essential not only for connecting villages with business centres, but improving connectivity with isolated local communities, where public transport options are limited or not available, reducing the high transport cost on people," he stated.

Rural Development advocates are of the view that connecting geographic locations through road networks, facilitate the transportation and movement of people, goods, and services. Thus enhancing rural welfare.

It is an incontestable fact that good road networks play a crucial role in the economic development of developing countries, particularly in rural communities where agricultural workers who need to transport their produce to markets, dominate.

Good road networks help reduce the travel time between two places, increase the frequency of transportation network and hence reduce travel costs.

What is the plan of the New Government with regard to the poor road network in Sabach Sanjal? The Minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure, has visited the place. The question that is on people's lips is, when will work begin on these feeder roads begin?

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