EDITORIAL: WHERE IS BARROW? CORONAVIRUS PANIC-STRICKEN AND HOPELESS GAMBIA CRIES!

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The Gambia should impose a state of emergency to keep its citizens safe from the Coronavirus pandemic. Non-essential businesses should be closed; and curfew be imposed, pending the tackling of the infection rate.

Our neighbors in Senegal had so far recorded close to 100 Coronavirus infection cases. Thousand other suspected cases are being traced in the French speaking Nation.

The Gambia has only three cases so far. We should be vigilant and avoid further infections. The infection rate is likely going to increase—given the virus’s spreading level on the continent and beyond.

President Adama Barrow should consider imposing a state of emergency until this Corona—COVID-19 pandemic infection rate is put under control. Failure of which, he might as well brace up for the unexpected.

It is imperative to note that Gambia’s health sector has virtually collapsed. Basic health necessities which should be used to help save patients’ lives are not available in our health facilities.

The other day, it was reported by the Freedom Newspaper that an accident victim died at the Kanifing General hospital due to lack of oxygen gas to resuscitate the accident victim. The ambulance at the hospital also do not have a functional battery that could be used to transport the patient to Banjul for further medical attention.

The online Gambian blog—WhatsonGambia had also reported yesterday about the death of a patient at the main hospital in Banjul. The blog attributed the patient’s death to lack of reliable dialysis services at the hospital.

Since our health sector is a virtual dead health sector, the Barrow leadership should rely on the World Health Organization’s prescribed prevention initiatives to protect our people from the deadly virus. Social distancing, improving sanitary conditions, personal hygiene, among others are imperative when it comes to tackling the virus.

The Government should also invest heavily towards revamping our collapsed health sector. The millions of dollars that the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other donors had allocated in helping the country to fight the Coronavirus global pandemic, should be used judiciously. We should not allow corrupt officials to steal the Corona funds.

Regarding MD Muhammed Manjang’s move to send his workers on leave because of the Coronavirus, our position is that such a decision should have come from President Barrow’s government. Government is about collective responsibility. The Corona issue is a national thing. The government should take the lead in decision making.

There is nothing wrong with Managing Directors of parastatals to protect their workers from the Coronavirus. But if there should be any move to send over 160 Social Security Workers on vacation, it is our view that the decision should be approved by the Commander-in-chief. It doesn’t tell well for MDS to be operating excessively without following government prescribed General Orders.

Decongesting our workplaces is crucially imperative. But it should be done in conjunction with the other parastatals and government agencies. Having one parastatal sending its staffers on leave is not enough.

President Barrow should stop leading from behind. He was voted into office to lead this country in times of crisis and uncertainties.

As Commander-in-chief, he should be part of the process to reassure and update Gambians about the pandemic. Unfortunately, Barrow is nowhere to be seen.

As we scribble this editorial, this country is battling with a potential economic recession—given the outbreak of the Coronavirus. Barrow’s Finance Minister should have been talking to the Press on the government’s plans to salvage the economy. There is no information from the Finance Ministry as to what plans the government had to cater for the workers, who had been laid off from the Tourism industry. How about the government workers, who are likely to be sent home because of the virus?

Barrow’s Trade Minister has also gone missing at this time. The Tourism Minister is also not talking.

Unless Barrow quits leading from behind, nothing would be achieved under his watch. Barrow, please come out and restore hope in this panic-stricken hopeless nation. We rest our case!

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