The environment of Greater Banjul has become eyesore in recent years with no national plan or municipal plan to redress environmental degradation.
The city of Banjul and Kanifing Municipal Area have become dumping grounds for second vehicles and other goods. One can see proliferation of all kinds of car dealers, workshops of all kinds, makeshift car wash outlets, food canteens, wrecked and unwanted trucks, dirty streets and premises, land grabbing at every corner for all kinds of activities, illegal activities everywhere, encroachment on roadsides for petty businesses, poor roads and damaged drainage ways causing havoc every rainy season, highly congested markets, mechanical, electrical and carpentry workshops everywhere, old and dilapidated vehicles polluting the environment, horse and donkey carts on the streets, and so forth. These are putting considerable pressures on social services and making vehicular traffic very difficult for the travelling public.
There is no urban planning in operation. The children are playing in the streets because there are no parks for them. Taxi drivers hang at various corners of GBA because there are no taxi parks for them. There are only two major markets in Banjul and Serekunda where shops are parked together like Sardine cans. The government agencies responsible for urban development and Municipalities concerned tend to be negligent in ensuring safe and secure environment for the people. The Gambia has become the dumping ground for second goods and KMC in particular is the main host of these goods. One should visit Banjul on Sundays to see how shopping areas are filtered and dirty with all kinds of waste materials. Where are health and environment authorities in all this appalling situation?
In the light of this messy urbanisation, it is time for all the stakeholders such as Lands Ministry, etc. to meet to map out an urban development strategy which if implemented could bring the desired modern state of Greater Banjul and a healthier, friendly environment for the well-being of society.
In this regard, instead of the rampant distribution of land we are all seeing in recent times Government should reserve designated land sites for allocation to car parks, children’s parks, centre for sale of vehicles, area for all workshops, centre for all trucks new and old, area for new markets and other businesses. Technical and financial support for this new urban development project could be solicited from donor partners in the most urgent manner. This project could be realized within 18 to 24 months with all the necessary infrastructure, water, electricity, roads, drainage system, telecoms, etc. Government could also consider dividing KMC into two municipalities for greater and effective service delivery.
With this plan, Banjul and the environs will become an organized modern environment. It will add value attraction to the OIC Summit and visitors to the country. The decongestion of the capital city and KMC is a development imperative. We have seen how our neighbouring country is doing in this endeavour. Development cannot be based on partisan interest.
We call on all stakeholders to engage in concerted efforts to make the decongestion of Banjul and KMC a workable plan for the common good.