The fight against COVID-19 pandemic must be backed by coherent, and robust policies; the enforcement of law, coupled with discipline and respect for the protocols as declared by the state.
Since, the first declaration of the state of the public emergency by the President of the Republic on the 27th of March, 2020, the government has not been able to demonstrate a clear road map on how to curb the virus in the Gambia. This is evident by recent exponential increase of cases reported daily in the country. Most of the measures that the government adopted were based on the agitation from the social media. It is critical to have a listening government but in situations like the COVID-19, it is expected for governments be very proactive in its dealings and to engage in high level policy consultations with relevant stakeholders, the CSOs, religious leaders, political parties, and youth organisations in the country to be able to have a broader national consensus on the way forward.
As citizens it’s in our collective interest to be disciplined during these times and to show a high level of patriotism and be each others keeper. Most countries that are able to contain the virus is largely dependent upon the discipline their citizens were able to observe during these difficult times and also based on the leadership provided by the government.
It is very unfortunate that in the Gambia, while the state of public emergency was on we were busy attending weddings and funerals without adhering to the social distancing protocols, and other related measures against COVID-19.
There’s no enforcement of the state of public emergency, I will therefore call on the minister of Interior to ensure that there is full compliance to the regulations outlined by government, we can’t have a country where laws are not enforced.
Finally, I have seen some people advocating for total lockdown of the country, I will totally oppose this call, the Gambia, cannot afford to let its people die of hunger and malnutrition. Who is going to feed the poor people? Particularly, during the farming season, there’s no support for the informal sector during these times, we have witnessed massive unemployment in country, our tourism industry is virtually dead, businesses are closed and revenue mobilization has been seriously affected. These are critical moments, and we need to reflect on the kind of policies response. This is not time for political blame games but it is a time for us to act together in the collective interest of the Gambia.
We have to insist on a comprehensive policy direction geared towards ensuring public health and safety and the overall sanity of the economy both now and after the pandemic.
Written By Ansumana Bojang