Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Journey To Mansakonko

The Trans-Gambia Highway is the most important road in The Gambia, running across the center of the nation in a north-south direction. Part of this road is still begging to be constructed for nearly four years now/PHOTO/Radosław Botev.
 No objection to government critics on poor conditions of roads



I never had objection to government critics on poor condition of roads linking towns within the greater Banjul and the Kombo areas, writes Gambian freelance journalist Ebrima Bah.

In these places, it is common to hear angry commuters complain about the presence of potholes and ditches on certain roads such as on the Kairaba Avenue, Kololi end of the Senegambia highway, the Serrekunda Mosque road through Kotu Silo road, entrance at the Brikama garage, and the road to Jalambang among others. 

Passengers in taxis cannot just bear the shock of hard ride within minutes for them to reach to their various destinations. These issues are mainly talks of the town on the traffic and at homes.

In my recent experience on “The Journey to Mansakonko", the administrative capital of the Lower River region, I can say that however disgruntle commuters may be within these urban areas they cannot criticise government for poor road network in the presence of travellers to Jarra Soma through the Trans-Gambia Highway.

At the Brikama Garage, I choose to board a six-wheeled minibus believed to possess all the features of a smooth ride on a rough road. The journey began smoothly up to Kalagi, the last village in the Foni district of the West Coast region where the tarred road of the Mandinaba-Jarra Soma road construction project ends at the moment.

I did not notice our arrival there until a baby girl who has been asleep wept. The baby was annoyed with the hard hit the car began to make on the gravel hinges through the Kiang district areas. Her mother mistakenly poured water into her nose in attempt to get her to drink.

The jittery and the dust from there was on unavoidable. I later on noticed that my own handwriting in noting down my story points in the journey was as horrible as my primary school notes about two decades ago.

At that point, passengers made a unanimous agreement for all the car windows to be widely opened for proper ventilation of the dust emanating from the road. What a big nonsense! I felt imprisoned because the place was totally dark of dust so much so that it was a problem to let my eyes open while the shock continued for nearly two hours.

Drivers would not drive at a low speed. They keep overtaking one another at a high risk of lives including their own. This is because they have a shared philosophy that the higher speed they drive, the less severe the faults will be on their vehicles and pain for the passengers.

There was a 22 passenger seater at fault with its disembarked passengers waiting on its drivers to complete fixing the fault. When the driver of the car I boarded asked his colleagues (working on the faulty car) if it was all right with them they responded in the positive. They described it as a minor tyre problem. Those drivers were however lucky to notice the puncture before the tyre could burst into what could have led to a fatal accident.

Another time it was a driver asking for a car jerk. "Not a serious problem," he also said.
Yes, not a serious problem since there was no casualty, I began to understand.

When I reached Jarra Soma, I looked like a fool who bleached his skin. I could not described how one American Peace Corps volunteer looked like with the addition of red paint on her white skin. We were equal to those who inevitably have to sit on their small Bantabas (basements) in their villages along the road in the Kiang and the Jarra districts. 

I wondered why did I subject myself into such a journey but God knows I had to hit the road to Mansakonko.

No wonder the sides of this road are bushier than inside the forest for most parts of the year. I asked a herdsman, why cattle don’t graze on the pasture by the road. "They do," he responded. He explained that, the cattle prefer the fresh pasture no matter how far in the forest than the dust contaminated pasture near the road. According to him, cows particularly would only turn to these infected pastures when they have no option to a fresh feed.

So even the animal kingdom will rejoice if the Trans-Gambia Road construction completes.


Ebrima Bah in Kiang district
Ebrima Bah is a Gambian freelance journalist, a teacher and the publisher of Campus And Field News.


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect The North Bank Evening Standard's editorial policy.








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