In the Wolof Language they say, ‘xoddeeku balaa ngai laka le’, a crude translation of this will be ‘prevention is better than cure’. Every year, when the heavens open up, many Gambians are affected by floods or storms and their houses are destroyed. They lose a lot of their valuable belongings and are certainly traumatized. This is something that can be minimized, if not completely eradicated.
If we have the proper planning and get ready to preparation for the long term, we will ensure that the places that are prone to flooding would be identified and then measures taken to guarantee that we don’t just react; rather, we should plan ahead of the rains.
There is a Department for Physical Planning which is under the Ministry of Lands which needs to carry out a broad study of the land in the country and demarcate residential areas in a way that no houses will be constructed in sodden areas which will always cause houses to collapse. It is true that it is very difficult land for residential purposes and as such if someone acquires a land already, it will be very difficult to stop him/her from erecting his/her house there; especially those who have already struggled and put up buildings.
Of course such people may not want to leave their houses or stop constructing houses because they might have invested their lives’ savings in those lands or houses. But nothing compares to human life. We see in the developed world that when a disaster is about to happen governments evacuate residents, sometimes forcefully, just to ensure their safety. The first priority of a government is to protect its citizens, sometimes even from their own actions.
Our laws should therefore cater for such a contingency. For instance, where someone intends to build a house in a place that is known to be prone to flooding, government should have the power to stop such a person. If it does, then how, and how far can the government agencies go in enforcing this law? If this law is already present in our Constitution, then why is it not being implemented?
These are a few of the things we should start thinking about to reduce the number of disasters that are experienced by our people. I call on you to put in place measures which will reduce the damage caused by these disasters in our country.
Have a Good Day Mr President….
Tha Scribbler Bah
A concerned Citizen