By Yusef Taylor and Arret Jatta
The road construction around the turntable area commenced in September 2022 and has started progressing towards Senegambia, disrupting already slow traffic along that route. Our reporter went on a trip from Senegambia to Turntable on 23rd December 2022 to engage commuters and drivers along this route. The first thing that’s easily noticeable is the dusty environment caused by the ongoing construction work and the lack of adequate alternative routes to ease the congestion. Feeder roads which could have been used had they been constructed prior to the commencement of construction of such a critical route have not been done.
After diverting traffic for the Construction of an Overhead Bridge and Turntable, two additional works have recently affected traffic along the Senegambia – Turntable route. The first works commenced close to Alvihag Supermarket where the construction of a culvert is ongoing. The second appears to be an underground pipe soon after Coco Ocean heading towards Senegambia.
If Covid-19 couldn’t force people to wear masks the dust certainly has a lot more people wearing masks around Turntable. The traffic congestion caused by vehicles having to go offroad alongside the road has caused a lot of problems for Drivers who ply the route. All this traffic congestion translates to people running late for work, school and their businesses.
Our reporter spoke to some of the drivers and commuters that ply the Senegambia to Turntable route on the impact of the traffic congestion caused by the construction works.
Mariama Jallow, a concerned citizen who uses the route to commute to work daily is confused about the manner in which the road works are being constructed. She questioned that Contractors “will touch one place, leave space and start constructing from another junction”. She gave an example of the roadworks currently taking place at Alvihag and close to Coco Ocean. Ms Jallow expressed her dissatisfaction with the roadworks saying: “honestly it’s confusing and frustrating but I hope it’s worth the trouble”.
Ms Jallow explained that since the road construction works commenced fewer drivers now ply the route making it difficult for commuters to travel. She added sometimes some drivers even increase the transport fares leaving them with no alternative but to pay.
Drivers often also decide to only take passengers travelling directly to Traffic Lights or Westfield to ensure that have passengers for their entire trip.
One driver, Lamin Bajinka who plies the Turntable to Senegambia route informed our reporter that traffic is worse on weekdays than at weekends. Mr Bajinka says “weekends are better because not everyone is on the road during the weekend but weekdays are just bad because a lot of people go to work and some go to school and this makes it worse”. He also raised concerns about the cost of fuel which he says “is too much these days and we all know the price of fuel is not going down”.
Speaking on the increased travel time, Mr Bajinka recalled that travelling to Senegambia from Turntable usually takes less than 10 minutes but since the traffic congestion caused by the road construction works it takes between 20 to 30 minutes depending on the traffic.
According to the driver, he is aware of the benefits of constructing roads however, the manner in which the construction works are progressing is causing too many difficulties for drivers and commuters. Looking forward to the completion of the road construction he says “maybe this one is going to be extraordinary that is why we don’t get it yet”.
That may just be the case as Gambia is set to complete its first flyover highway on the OIC Project. The Office of the President’s website also highlights that “the OIC roads project involves 50 kilometres of 20 new feeder roads and a modern dual carriageway leading from Kairaba Avenue through Bertil Harding Highway to the Airport junction in Yundum”.
It is hoped that “when completed, they will help decongest traffic within the Kanifing Municipality and West Coast Region”.