The cleansing operation which began last week within the Kanifing Municipality targets street vendors and car parks that cause blockage and affect the progressive movement of commuters and drivers.
Speaking to The Point Newspaper during the operations at Westfield, Modou Musa Sisaho, acting public relations officer, Gambia Police Force said the main objective of the exercise was to ease mobility and reduce accidents on the roads.
He added that at the beginning of the operation they faced some challenges with some garage owners who resisted being taken to the Kanifing Police Intervention Unit purposely to make them understand that the purpose of the activity is beyond an individual interest; that it is for national interest.
“Ensuring a safe road is for the entire public; it is a general need rather than an individual need. So it is important to join hands, collaborate and work towards the success of the country,” he posited.
PRO Sisaho continued that they have a task force that will ensure the sustenance of the exercise and to ensure that the roads are cleared completely.
He explained that at this point there is no intention of prosecuting anyone but to inform and remove them from the road sides.
He added that if one is found re-occupying the places where they were asked to vacate, that could lead to prosecution.
According to the Police PRO, they are not making any compensation for any damages because the demolished areas are not officially or legally allocated to any vendor and that they were given notice since September through television and radio talk shows and press releases.
He implored Gambians to be cooperative in the operation while describing it as a “national duty”.
Fatou Bintou Jallow, a fruit street vendor said that she has been selling on the highway for the past 28 years. She claimed that she wasn’t aware of the cleansing exercise.
She said the police came earlier on Monday and requested that they leave the highway and that they didn’t want to see anybody selling on the highway. According to her, the police this time around didn’t throw away their commodities.
She bemoaned that this is not the first time that they had encountered such with the police enforcement body. She alleged that the last time the police took away two cartoons of her apple and 10 cartoons of dates among others and threw away her stall. “I went to Mile 2 to claim my commodity and realised that it had been sold,” she stated.
“I therefore urge the government of The Gambia to leave us to sell on the highway until they are ready to repair the highway instead of driving us away in such an undone manner,” she said.
According to her, this is the only business from which she earns her living and feeds her family.