By Ramatoulie Jawo
The Gambia Police Force (GPF) and the German Police Support Team (GPST) kicked off a five-day capacity building on road safety on Tuesday at NANA conference Hall in Kanifing.
The training, which is being funded by the German government, aims to improve road safety in The Gambia by equipping police officers with the skills and knowledge they need to enforce traffic laws and prevent accidents.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Senior Project Coordinator of GPST Seven Stadtrecher said that the work of police officers is extremely important in society and democracy, more than any other agency.
Mr. Stadtrecher said the Policemen and women represent the state and enforce the laws.
“One of the biggest challenges the Gambia Police Force, and the Gambia as a whole, is facing today, is that traffic affects our daily lives. Death and injuries from road traffic accidents are a serious threat to the health of the population and hurt social and economic progress,” he said.
Mr. Stadtrecher said the German Police Support Team is committed to supporting the Gambia Police Force in its efforts to manage traffic in the Gambia.
“To improve the Road Safety for all citizens of the Gambia, while traffic management and enforcement is certainly the task of the Gambia Police Force and proper traffic enforcement undoubtedly creates a better and safer environment, preventing harm to the lives and properties of the Gambian people,” Mr.Stadtrecher stated.
Mr. Stadtrecher said road safety issues cannot be solved by the police alone. He said it requires a multi-level and holistic approach involving different government agencies and civil society.
Lamin King Colley, the Commissioner of Mobile Traffic Police in The Gambia, has lauded the German government for its support in improving road safety in the country. Commissioner Colley said that the training could not have come at a better time. He said that road traffic accidents are one of the major causes of fatality in The Gambia.
“Given that, it is important for our officers to receive professional training to make our roads and highways safe for use. Thereby, preventing the loss of lives that is always associated with such fatal accidents,” he said.
Mr. Colley expressed his hope that by the end of the five-day training, the participants would have acquired the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively and efficiently manage traffic on the roads, in order to improve the safety of all road users.
Tamsir Jassey, a police adviser in The Gambia, urged the public to take action to address the country’s road safety issues. Jassey said that looking at the statistics, it is clear that the current situation is very concerning.
“It is unacceptable the way things are. It is not good for any of us, and we are the leading agency to do something. I am taking this position, promising the Gambian people that we are going to do something. So, we want the support of the Gambian people to recognize that there are tough decisions that will be made,” he said.
Mr. Jassey went on to say that the Ministry of Transportation is developing new regulations, and that the Ministry of Justice is reviewing the traffic laws of The Gambia with the support of the Gambia Police Traffic Unit. He added that these efforts are being made in an effort to improve road safety in the country.
“We are looking at other traffic laws around West Africa as well as other countries. We are looking at specific inspections that must be done on all vehicles to become road-worthy to be on the roads. We are looking at who gets our driver’s license and how we monitor those that have been issued a driver’s license to ensure that they are adhering to the rules and regulations,” he told the gathering.