By Abdoulie G. Dibba
This column is meant to monitor and report on issues that concern the people of the rural area in terms of how they are facilitating or hindering their development.
The people of Sabach Sanjal District have again raised their voices on the poor road network in their District during a visit to the area by this columnist on the 25 to 27 July, 2016.
According to the people of the District, even though they have never voted against the ruling party both in the first and second republics, in terms of development, the District is left behind, particularly with regards to having in place a good road network.
The people of the District described it as a nightmare travelling to villages that are off the Farafenni/Laminkoto highway due to unmotorability of the roads.
Commenting on the issue, one Alieu Gaye pointed out that the only feeder road project that the District can boast of was built by the EDF in the late 70s and since then the road has not been maintenance or re-constructed.
“Good road network facilitates the movement of people thereby allowing social interaction among the people of the District but in the case of Sabach Sanjal, we are completely left behind even though the majority of the electorate are supporters of the ruling party,” said Mr. Gaye.
Due to the unmotorability of the roads in the District, drivers only stop at strategic points like Dibba Kunda, Checken or NGayen and someone with goods have to hire a donkey or horse cart.
This hiring of donkey or horse cart, Gaye continued, increases the prices of the goods which is passed on to the buyers.
Sira Jallow, a commuter from Niamina Dankunku District, informed this columnist that the poor road network in Sabach Sanjal is not only creating economic hardship to the people of Sabach but the people of Niamina as well.
According to her, it is cheaper to travel from Niamina via Kani Kunda to Farafenni than Soma to Farafenni. She noted that it costs D35 to travel to Farafeeni via Kani Kunda while taking the route through Soma will cost over D100.
“A good road network is essential not only for connecting villages with business centres but improving connectivity with isolated local communities where public transport options are limited or not available thereby reducing the high transport cost to people,” said Sira Jallow.
Rural Developmentalists are of the view that connecting geographic locations through road networks facilitate the transportation and movement of people, goods, and services thus enhancing rural welfare.
It is an incontestable fact that good road networks play a crucial role in the economic development of developing countries, particularly in the rural area which is dominated by agricultural workers who need to transport their produce to the market.
Good road networks help reduce the travel time between two places, increase the frequency of the transportation network and hence reduce travel costs.
This columnist discovered during the visit that commuters have walk from Dibba Kunda to Kumbija, Checken to Pallen, Ngayen to the surrounding villages like Loumen, Mbayen, Mballow Omar, Njayen amongst others.
All the people of the District who spoke to this columnist, appealed to the central and local government to come to their aid.