By Assan Bah
In recognition of victims of road traffic crashes as passed and adopted in a United Nations (UN) resolution in October 2005, the Gambia through the Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure, on Sunday 19 November 2023, commemorated World Remembrance Day for Road traffic accident victims.
The day, which provides an opportunity to remind government, civil society, the private sector, development partners and road users of their responsibility to make roads safer, was commemorated at the said Ministry’s headquarters. The slogan for this year’s commemoration was “to REMEMBER those who lost their lives; SUPPORT those who survived and ACT for JUSTICE”, accompanied with the theme JUSTICE for road crash victims.
Mr. MomodouGassama, a representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and member of the technical working group, said everyone has a responsibility in addressing road traffic issues. He said Africa has the highest death rate of road traffic accidents and called for a systemic approach to solve the problem because one individual cannot address the problem.
“Africa has the highest death rate of road traffic accidents and has 1% of the global fleet of vehicles but contributes 13% of global road traffic deaths. There has to be a systemic approach to road safety because one cannot blame the other about it, it should be a collective responsibility for us to make gains in road safety,’’ Gassama said.
He further implored on drivers to drive carefully because 95% of road traffic accidents or crashes can be prevented and predicted.
“Speed is a killer and is responsible for all the road traffic accidents and the lesser the speed the better,’’ he said and assured the UN’s continuous support in addressing the menace.
AlieuTouray, a road traffic accident victim and retired police officer who was knocked by a vehicle while on duty in 2012, commended the organisers for giving them courage and confidence that they are not forgotten. He, however, called for more support from Government, NGOs and other philanthropists to help some of their counterparts who are not working due to their conditions.
“Our number is very large and our conditions differ. Some are working and earning a little but there are others who cannot work due to their condition, and they only depend on what others give them,’’ Touray said.
He further advised drivers to drive with due diligence, saying the life they safe, may be their own.
“Let us all have faith and accept what has happen to us. We feel positive and strong and remember that we are still alive to make it. While there is life, there is hope,” he advised his fellow victims.
In his keynote address, Ebrima Sillah, the Minister of Transport, Works and Infrastructure, said most of the of road accidents and crashes can be prevented with positive behavioural change, and the improvement of the road management system as a whole, and said in response to the growing road safety challenges, Government is putting in place all necessary institutional road management and regulatory frameworks to ensure that the country is better poised to tackle all road safety challenges.
Minister Sillah assured his Ministry and Government’s commitment to work with road accident victims to alleviate their suffering, and provide them with all the necessary support to all the victims along the way.