Truck accident blamed on ECOMIG checkpoint

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Interstate commercial transport stakeholders have blamed truck accidents on the ‘poor’ location of the West African military forces at Bwiam Foni Kansala District in the West Coast Region.

The Economic Community of West Africa Mission In The Gambia (ECOMIG) mounts its checkpoint on the bend along the swamp belt of the South Bank highway. Their presence is the scenario of sub regional intervention to help in the restoration of good governance in the country which began in 2017.

Mamadi Baldeh who contacted our newsroom claimed damages of over one hundred thousand dalasis when his truck registered, BJL 8714 N fell off the highway in attempt to dodge the blockage by the ECOMIG checkpoint. The truck was loaded with five tons of merchandise bound for Guinea.

Out of twenty years of driving experience, the truck driver has spent the last six years on interstate voyages.

“From January, I have delivered two trips of 75 tons to Guinea alone,” he said, adding that the routes to countries like Senegal, Mali and Bissau are very familiar.

Police warning

The Bwiam police station, after visiting the scene on Thursday, issued a warning letter alleging that Mr. Baldeh is responsible for the accident and may be summoned to court for “reckless driving,”

The police Public Relations Officer, ASP Lamin Njie said the issuance of a warning letter is part of the procedure in accident cases. He said it is to prepare the suspect for a possible court proceeding.

Drivers solidarity

Ebou Laam who is a middleman in the ECOWAS interstate commercial transport sector also put blame on the location of the ECOMIC checkpoint. He said the current accident is the third of its kind at the same spot in this year. The first was a ‘long vehicle’ truck from Senegal and the second was a truck from Mali.

President of the Gambia National Transport Union, Omar Ceesay, said their assessment suggested that the driver was not at fault. He did not rule out that the military ‘blockage’ on the road could be a key factor.

“If we find out that the checkpoint was the cause of the accident, then we will make a formal challenge of it through the right authorities.”

ECOMIC reaction

Commander Michael Larbi, spokesperson of the Economic Community of West Africa States Mission In The Gambia, said the position of a checkpoint is not in any case, done in a haphazard manner. It is an establishment of which “the local security authority (Gambian forces) is aware.

He dispelled the idea that the position of the checkpoint is a cause for concern. “If you have not been hearing of other accidents, you cannot use one isolated incident as a basis to determine the location of the checkpoint. What about other drivers? Have they complained about that?”

In his view, a driver handling a vehicle will definitely have his reasons why something happens; but that cannot be used as a basis to point fingers at the checkpoint.

In fact, “even in areas where there are no checkpoints, accidents happen there,” he argued.

Possible repair to damages

Ebrima Jallow, a Guinean businessman to whom the goods belong claimed loses equivalent to U.S. D18,000.

He noted that unless the authorities have made some assessment and then give feedback, he is hopeless as to any form of recovery from the damage. “As of this second day, since the accident occurred, no one had involved me in anything regarding my goods,” he said, feeling left out of any form of investigation into the incident.

Where such a case is decided in favour of the driver, key partners like the insurance company will play a crucial role. The insurance Company whose policy the driver is holding assesses claims in case of accident, relying heavily on police reports.

“We work with our policy holders to investigate issues around the matter in consultation with the police” and then work on means to respond to all claims, says Abubacarr Touray who is responsible for claims at Prime Insurance Company.

Author: Ebrima Bah