Jun 22, 2020, 1:34 PM
In the not too distant past, The Gambia was a welcoming place to the admiration of many. There was every guarantee that you could literally step anywhere without the threat of attacks, violence or assault. We live and breathed true Gambia values, social protection and overall reassurance.
What’s happening to our Country?
Not anymore. Today, we wake up every now and then to hear news of armed robbery attacks all over the country, raising the anxiety of people above tolerance level. Just recently, I learnt with extreme sadness and sorrow, the family that was attacked at Old Jeshwang through their burglar-proof doors, assaulted and their GMD16million Dalasi (US$312,000) stolen from them at gunpoint. You could feel the chills all over your body as the head of the house narrated the incident to the media.
It is not the only incident we have heard in recent times. The Gambia is in a destabilised state and something has to give and very fast. Our security apparatus seems out of sorts and we are gradually heading to a place of uncontrolled, untrammelled and unrestrained lawlessness that could plunge our beloved country into a state of emergency. How did we get here? When I interact with people from all walks of life, there is a general feeling of despair and deep fear. People are living as if under a curfew. This is eroding the confidence in security, enviable religious and cultural values. We cannot continue like this in the 21st century.
A SEPTAGON Solution
As one who has worked in the security arena on the international scene for over seventeen years; I have come up with a seven-fold plan to halt this unsustainable situation and return The Gambia to a more progressive, stable, peaceful and thriving country. A place where our children will live in serenity, businesses will thrive without fear of instability and a safe haven in the sub-region.
LAUNCH A BROAD BASED, fully equipped and trained community patrol security service across the country; especially in the ‘hot spot’ areas. Training should not be limited to technical skills but must include human skills with the primary objective to improve the safetyexperience of the people. Barricades must be mounted in targeted areas and extra effort must be made to ensure it doesn’t deteriorate traffic flow.
EMPLOY SMARTER AND OPTIMAL utilization of our resources by deploying government vehicles for the patrol service in the evenings.In view of the budgetary challenges of procuring vehicles at one go, government should adopt this tactical approach to enable the gradual sourcing of vehicles for the patrol teams
DRIVE SECURITY AWARENESS campaigns using all forms of communication channels to spread security and safety habits. Promote dialogue between the community police and the people to ensure proper feedback mechanism.
SET UP A TOLL-FREE NUMBER THAT WORKS. If the number works, it raises people’s trust, and they will use it; therefore, responsiveness and reliability are crucial.
IN THE MEDIUM TERM, THE CITY COUNCILS should gradually install street cameras and lights for prevention and to support investigation of incidents.
PROVIDE INSURANCE TO THE POLICE to cover accidents, injuries and deaths on the job. These can be funded in collaboration with the private sector by introducing a token security service fee,
SET UP A SECURITY SERVICEREVIEW team comprising of members from the police, army, immigration, navy, media and local government to monitor implementation of recommendations and security assessment.
While the measures are inexhaustible, I am of the firm belief that this seven-fold plan will set the country on a path towards liberation and stability. The current state is untenable and unpardonable, and the country is tethering towards breaking point. We cannot afford to let it happen, particularly at this stage of our development. Over to you, Mr. President!
Alhaji Abdoulie Jobe, known as Ma Alhaji, a native of Kerr Jarga with 17 years military experience working in the British Army.