Sise Sawaneh. You died! But, your journalistic writings and efforts made to make your community and country embrace peace over conflict, collectivism over individualism will forever live on. You and others died not because you were in the wrong car drove by incompetent driver. You died because it is time to meet your Lord.
I do not know it will be earlier than expected. I had wanted to contact you for information on the Caste System ravaging your tribe based on my research to unearth the causes and proffer nationalistic solutions to the stakeholders. During my stint in your country, despite our arguments about the point of parity and difference between Nigeria and The Gambia, you always put me on my toes, defending your country. At that point, I knew you are the type of the citizen The Gambia needs to fight oppressions and liberate thousands of Gambians through journalisms and humanitarian services.
I assure you that I will still go ahead with the researches on the Caste System. But, what I do not know now is the time the outcomes will be published for the public, especially your fellow Gambians. Your death has been described as a monumental national loss. But, for me, it is more than national loss. It is a loss to the media communities worldwide and the global leaders who agreed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 because you died fighting for one of the Goals –Sustainable and resilient cities.
Despite that God has destined that you will leave us in October, 2019, we cannot be muted on the circumstances that led to your death. Therefore, I am writing an open letter on your behalf and others who died due to bad roads, reckless driving and government failure to act on matters that concern living a sustainable life in your country to President Adama Barrow.
Dear President Adama Barrow,
Mr. President it is understandable that you came at a time when Gambians need to be liberated from the Yahyah Jammeh administration that held the country for 22 years. After Jammeh exists, actors and non-state actors echoed “Gambians now free…” It is understandable that years of damages to the socioeconomic and political structures require painstaking efforts and sustainable plans. But, you have been in government for nearly 5 years and already canvassing for another tenure. I believe your first 2 years are sufficient to provide the needed changes in the socioeconomic structures, especially infrastructural development and urban renewal.
Mr. President considering the number of accident cases reported and recorded deaths in the last 5 years, it is high time that your administration declare emergency in the road section of the transportation sector. The Gambia is one of the countries in the developing world that has been predicted to have high road deaths in 2020, already we have less than three months into the year. The projection indicates that 2 persons out of 10,000 persons will die when fatal accidents are recorded.
Mr. President I would like to draw your attention to some national and global staggering statistics about road accidents in The Gambia. In its latest report, The Gambia Bureau of Statistics notes that “the number of fatal accidents has increased from 123 in 2017 to 141 in 2018 with a total number of 129 persons killed from the accidents. The number of serious injury, minor injury and non-injury accidents increased by 18.5 per cent, 22.8 per cent and 26.4 per cent respectively from 2017 to 2018.”
Mr. President these national statistics call for sober reflection. The reflection should be deeper if your administration looks at the international statistics. For instance, in the course of my search about the road accident statistics, I found that out of 50 causes of death identified by the World Health Organisation for The Gambia in 2017, road traffic accident death was ranked 8, placing the country in 8th position in the world. According to the global body, Road Traffic Accidents Deaths in Gambia reached 606 or 4.14% of total deaths. The age adjusted Death Rate is 43.85 per 100,000 of population. In villages and urban areas, people have died and many have remained paralysed. On average, The Gambia has lost 119 people between 2014 and 2018.
Mr. President. It is an established fact that reckless driving has mostly been cited as the cause of road accidents. But, it is high time your administration examines the changes in the length of the roads paved in the last 5 years. Available statistics indicate that the percent of the length of paved roads increased from 63.2% in 2013 to 64.9% in 2014. More than 1% increase was achieved in 2015 (65.7%). Surprisingly, the percent was dipped in 2016 to 50.6% and picked in 2017 (51.8%) and 2018 (52.8%). Mr. President. This trend is not encouraging at all, when we look at the consequences of unpaved roads –fatal accidents with serious injuries.
Mr. President. Let us examine the impacts of the accidents on the economy between 2014 and 2018. Maybe this will give us more reasons to make critical decisions on the transportation sector. There is no doubt, the economy experienced ups and downs during the period. The growth was mainly driven by the services, tourism, trade, financial services and insurance sectors, supported by the transport, construction and telecommunications sectors.
Mr. President. It is disheartening to know that the death rate grew at faster percent than the real GDP between 2014 and 2018. Analysis further indicates that the death growth rate and GDP based on purchasing-power-parity (PPP) per capita connected by 36.9%. This shows that the death and real GDP moved in tandem during the period. Average real GDP growth rate between 2014 and 2018 was 3.3%, average persons killed growth rate during the period was 19.99%, while the average the GDP PPP per capita was $ 1,596,628,000.
With these results, Mr. President, it is obvious that road accidents had impacts on the economy. For more insights, Mr. President, let us examine the linkages that existed during the years. The number of deaths and real GDP growth connected by 52.9%. Based on the accident types, analysis shows that fatal accident cases and real GDP growth connected by 37%. This is positive but, it stresses the extent to which the accident type could impact economic growth. Mr. President. It was not positive for the minor and serious injury accidents. Analysis reveals that one minor injury accidents reduced the country’s real GDP growth by 58.6%, while one serious injury accident dipped the real GDP growth by 16.1%.
Mr. President. These results imply that those who had minor and serious injuries were unable to engage in socioeconomic activities capable of increasing the economy during the period. This has established that your administration cannot do without proffering immediate solutions to road crashes because analysis shows that the severity of the accidents was 54.2% on the real GDP growth between 2014 and 2018. The expectation is that these accidents would reduce 2019’s real GDP growth by 43.1%.
Mr. President. There is no need to be panic about these statistics and results. What your administration needs is strategic choices and tactical implementations. As stated earlier, the transport sector needs overhauling. This must be done with the immediate effect. Roads must be well taken care off between now and next year. Public workforce and citizens need to be more enlightened on the do’s and don’ts on the roads while driving.
Since it is not practically possible not to experience road crash, Mr. President, emergency medical facilities equally require overhauling. In the event of an accident, the facilities are very sparse, especially in upcountry. The Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital and other health facilities need more emergency facilities including competent personnel for accident victims. Accident and emergency units should be strengthened. Your administration should consider insurance scheme for the accident victims. This will go in a long way of reducing the number of victims who died before or within 24 hours of hospital admission because of finance issue being sorted out with the health workers by the relatives of the victims.
Mr. President, without these, having Public and Environmental Health sector that would be a model in the African Region by 2020 would remain a dream that would never be realized. Mr. President, I believe my positions and emerging insights would help you in making strategic decisions towards the attainment of the country’s health philosophy “health is wealth”.