By Landing Ceesay
President Adama Barrow earlier today commissioned 33 new buses meant to ease urban transportation.
The commissioning is the first phase of the Accelerated Urban Transport Initiative project, which is part of government’s efforts to facilitate movement within the urban areas.
Shortly, after handing over the keys to the Gambia Transport Service Company (GTSC), President Barrow said the commissioning marked another milestone in the history of vehicular transportation in the country.
He said the 33 buses are exclusively for urban transport services, while the remaining five are for operational support to the Urban Transport Initiative Project.
Barrow said the development cannot come at a better time, considering the recent significant improvements on the road infrastructure network and the growing traffic congestion in the Greater Banjul Area.
“Despite the Government’s achievements in this sector, the need to complement road infrastructure development with proper road transport operations is obvious. History teaches that, for any country to improve its transport services, public transport services, particularly in urban settings, must be efficient and responsibly managed. This Urban Transport Initiative illustrates the National Development Plan’s recognition of the important role public transport services contribute towards the national economy,” he said.
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The Gambian leader stated that his government would steadfastly seek to improve the transport sector through all relevant stakeholders; especially the operatives within it.
He said his government established the Department of Transport at the Ministry of Transport, Works, and Infrastructure to assume oversight responsibility of policy and regulation of road transport and other related sub-sectors.
The head of state said the Greater Banjul Area hosts the bulk of Gambia’s population and that ‘no wonder’ meeting the mobility needs of the people within the area, amid its rapid rate of urbanisation and population growth is one of the major challenges in the National Transport Policy.
Barrow said any scheme geared towards improving urban transport services to ease movement without compounding traffic congestion, is most welcomed and laudable.
“Cognisant of this huge challenge, we are intensifying efforts during the implementation period of the National Transport Policy (2018-2026). My government will continue to address the concerns linked to the increased demand for transport through efficiency improvements, including regular and effective public transport service provision and traffic management measures. Easing traffic on the main road links will take centre stage in this respect,” Barrow said.
President Barrow said with a broader City-State concept in mind, they expect that this project will extend services to the rural area in their drive to comprehensively address the transport challenges Gambians face across the country.
Since defeating Yahya Jammeh, in the 2016 December presidential election, this is the second time President Barrow inaugurated buses to ease Urban Transportation.
In June 2018, The government of Turkey donated 20 buses to the Gambia to help improve the country’s public transportation system.
Despite the inauguration of these buses, Transportation remains one of the biggest challenges Gambian people are facing, especially those in Greater Banjul.