By Awa B. Bah
Drivers plying the Brikama-Basse highway have decried the unusual crossing of cattle on the trans-Gambia main highway as animal distraction increases at an alarming rate. It has been noticed over the years that drivers knock down animals crossing the highway leading to cattle and even human fatalities. This reporter witnessed a near miss collision of a bus and a calf that was following some cows crossing the highway. This could have resulted in an accident if the driver did not miss the calf. According to the bus driver, it is a big risk when driving on the trans-Gambia highway nowadays as animals of all sort, cross the highway to reach water points; that most of the time, they have to make split-second diversions when they come across animals crossing the highway which they said lead some drivers in the wrong direction, and causing accidents.
One of the drivers called on livestock owners to keep their animals away from the road; that the Gambia Livestock Association should take the lead in making sure that animals are protected and kept domestically. He said drivers are always troubled psychologically and economically, when they hit animals as owners will sometimes claim cash or curse them. This the driver said, is a burning issue for drivers and called on the authorities to intervene so that they can carry on their noble work to carry people and goods safely.
Another “Gelle-gelle” driver said he was lucky to have managed a near miss collision after spotting cattle from a distance; that otherwise he would have ran over them and probably kill or injure them or hurt his passengers; that donkeys are the main contributors to the high incidence of road accidents because they don’t move away from the road when a vehicle approaches them. Muhammed Camara is a livestock owner living on the Bakadagi-Mankama Kunda road side. Camara said they are not to be blamed for not keeping their animals away from the road; that the settlement is known for animal rearing and drivers should be very cautious when driving around the area; that drivers will be responsible when they hit his animals because the area is a human settlement that has animals.
According to him, it is difficult to pen the animals in a permanent place depriving them of their rights to movement and grazing; that animals sometimes need to be idle to fend for them themselves. Other animal owners express similar concerns. The major causes of accidents they said is the over speeding of the drivers.