By Nelson Manneh
The Road Cleansing Exercise, jointly carried out by the National Road Authority (NRA), Police Intervention Unit (PIU) of The Gambia Police Force (GPF), and armed personnel (Soldiers) from The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), yesterday, 30th October continued to remove illegal structures along roadsides in the Greater Banjul Area.
Officials from the Physical Planning Department are part of a task force conducting this exercise.
The national road-clearing exercise started on the 19th of October 2023 in Old Jeshwang. The personnel carrying out the exercise are currently in Tallinding going towards Latrikunda.
The initiative includes the demolition of permanent and temporary structures and installations that are in breach of the law governing road safety and public order.
Mr Lamin Jabbie, a shopkeeper around the Tallinding Market, said the national clearing exercise is not bad, but the authorities should have provided a place for the vendors before they started demolishing their stores.
“I am not against the exercise because if you look at the highways, you will agree with the fact that the exercise has yielded some dividends. The road is now clean and wider than it used to be and people are freely working along without interruptions,” he said.
He added that for him, it was only his veranda that was removed. “I used to pack some of my goods under the veranda of my shop because my shop is small, but now I have no choice, I have to squeeze everything inside,” he explained.
Madam Fatou Camara, a street vendor, said she was asked to remove her umbrella and table from where she used to station them, which she did but had no place to relocate her stall.
“It is very devastating to some of us, for me I have no other place to relocate myself. I have been selling here for the past ten years and this is where I get my fish money and other basic provisions for my children because I am a single parent,” she lamented.
Madam Camara said the authorities should have come up with alternatives before the exercise. “I don’t have a place inside this market (Tallinding Market) that’s why I decided to place my stall here and fend for myself. If I am asked to relocate, I don’t know where to go to,” she emotionally expressed.
Some victims whose stalls and shop verandas were pointed out for demolition voluntarily removed them, but some decided not to remove theirs, making the authorities remove them on their own.