Saturday, March 28, 2020
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No one allowed to Cross Karang-Amdalai Border

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By Mustapha Jallow

No person is allowed to cross the Amdalai-Karang border crossing point except diplomats and vehicles carrying foodstuffs.

This move is in response to the agreement reached by the Governments of The Gambia and Senegal last week to close their borders in a bid to arrest the spread of the deadly Coronavirus. The number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Senegal has gone pass one hundred and fifteen while The Gambia only registered three confirmed cases.

The borders will remain closed for a period of 21 days, according to the agreement between The Gambia and Senegal. At the Karang border, there was heavy presence of security personnel who were turning back travellers from The Gambia going to Senegal.

The new measures by the two countries do not impact on goods as trucks carrying foodstuffs were allowed to cross either side of the border.

While at the border at 12 am on Thursday, it was observed that most of the shops in both countries were closed and others remained opened to provide services to people living within the area – as long as they respect social-distancing between themselves.

It was also noticed that small scale economic operators including fruits sellers and foreign exchange dealers have stopped work for fear of contracting the virus.

The border closure is aimed at controlling the spread of coronavirus. The movement of vehicles in the area has registered a significant decline. No private or commercial vehicle was allowed to enter either Gambia or Senegal. Those attempting to walk to either side of the border were asked to return by the security.

According to the residents of the area, they have been sensitized by health practitioners and volunteers of the Gambia and Senegalese Red Cross Societies about the Coronavirus.

Momodou Sowe, a health officer stationed at Amdalai-border said: “There is low movement of people. Some travellers have been sent away by the Gambian and Senegalese security personnel because it is part of measures to avoid the spread of coronavirus.’’

According to him, they and their Senegalese counterparts have designed a sensitization program to go into communities within the border area to sensitize them on how to prevent themselves from this deadly disease.

“Only trucks with commodities, stones and other building materials were allowed to enter Senegal and Gambia,” Sowe said.

He added: “Only truck drivers and their apprentice were allowed to cross the border. Immediately they arrived here, we screened and asked them to wash their hands before crossing the border.’’

He explained, “We were also ordered by the border security personnel to list-down names of the shop owners within the area as for security reasons.’’

He said: “Some decided to stay at home for their safety while others remained opened, but they closed at 6pm.’’

When these businessmen come in the morning, Sowe continued: “We write each person’s names and ask them to wash their hands before – we screen them.’’

He added a troop of Senegalese paramilitary have since been deployed to patrol the border because it is porous. He detailed that this is because some motor-bikers are engaged in helping people cross the border using the porous entry points.

“Some travellers were intercepted and briefly held by the Senegalese border security. They were later released and asked to return to their homes,’’ he explained.

He added: “Senegalese securities are taking this seriously to ensure the virus does not spread. They are using motorbike to track down travellers sneaking in. They are fully armed.’’

According to Sowe, they are not grappling with any pressure as of now. He said any Senegalese or Gambian who wants to cross – would be sent back to their respective place of origin.

“Few travellers, especially diplomats are allowed to cross the border for certain reasons. They have to call before they are allowed to cross,’’ he explained.

Abdou Gueye, a Senegalese motor-biker said their movement has been restricted adding that they are only allowed to carry food items from The Gambia to Senegal.

“I was not allowed to carry passengers and my movement is limited. I would only go to Gambia or Senegal if someone requested me to come and carry food items,’’ he explained.

He confirmed that they normally sneak travellers into (Gambia/Senegal) the two countries, but this, he added, “if you are caught – you are jailed or fined for violating the border rules.’’

“They will fine you 500.000 CFA. We are violating the law, but we rely on these activities to survive. We are also concerned about the disease, but we need to feed our families,’’ he said.

Pendeh Sowe, a Senegalese residing in “Kaolaka” who was seen struggling to cross to Senegal, said she was denied entrance. She added that she was at the border since in the morning and whenever she attempted to cross the border; the Senegalese security agents would send her back to the Gambia.

“I tried all my best, but they did not allow me to cross. I was returning to my family home in ‘Kolocka’. So, the only option available for me is to go back to my relative’s home,’’ she explained.

Sulayman Bah, a stall owner at Amdalai decried that business activities have gone down and travellers are not buying their food items.

“As you see, the border is in a state of lull. Nothing is moving. I decided to close down my shop and stay at home,’’ he said. He continued, “I only open when someone calls me and request for food stuff.’’

“It was not our wish to sit without engaging in anything – but we have to respect the decision taken by the two authorities,” Bah said.

A senior customs officer at the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) stationed at the Amdalai border said the outbreak of coronavirus is slowing down the business activities at the border.

Halifa Sallah Sensitizes Youth On The Effects Of Covid-19

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By Kebba Secka

Halifa Sallah, the National Assembly member for Serekunda Constituency on Saturday March 21st 2020, sensitized youth groups within London Corner, on the effects of the coroner virus.

The youths who were found in their respective ‘vous’ said they have been hearing about the much talked about coroner virus or Covid-19 disease, but do not know it’s effects.

Sallah began by asking them to share with him everything they heard or know about the virus and the preventive measures that should be taken against it. After their brief explanations, Halifa told them the history of the disease and where it emanated from and its impact and how to avoid it.

The rapid spread of the disease according to Sallah, led President Adama Barrow to declare a ban on all public gatherings including ‘vous’, on the 17 of March 2020; that their form of gathering is one of the most feared social contact in transmitting the virus because of its contagious nature. He sensitized them on how the disease impacts on people’s wellbeing leading to the deaths in many countries around the world. He pleaded with them to adjourn their traditional form of gathering and brewing China green tea until the menace of the virus is defeated.

On how the disease becomes contagious, Sallah explained: “According to world health organization, the virus is contagious such that social contact, frequent hand washing and a minimum of one metre social distancing, are among the best forms of the precautionary measures.”

He reminded the London Corner youth of their value in joining Government to fight against the spread of the virus.

Halifa’s long period of sensitization with the youth, saw them demonstrate keen interest in the discussion and assured him that the information gathered from him will go a long way in assisting them avoid the ‘vous’ and to adhere to the strict precautionary measures of the WHO.

Niang Sarang Jobe’s Case set for Judgment

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By Yankuba Jallow
A superior court in Banjul is set to deliver judgment in the civil suit involving an employee of The Point Newspaper and the Attorney General.
Niang Sarang Jobe, who was in the same vehicle with journalist Deyda Hydara the night the latter was mowed down by gunmen, is asking the Court to make an order of mandamus compelling the State to compensate her as a victim of a shooting incident.
On Tuesday the 11th February 2020 the High Court in Banjul adjourned the case for delivery of Judgment. This followed the adoption of written briefs by the parties namely; Counsel for the Applicant (Niang Sarang), Lawyer Malick H.B Jallow and the Respondent- Attorney General.
It could be recalled that pursuant to leave granted by the High Court to Nian Sarang Jobe through her Counsel, she made an application on the 29th May 2019 seeking for an order of mandamus compelling the Government of the Gambia through the Attorney General to provide adequate compensation to her as a direct victim of the Deyda Hydara shooting incident.
The High Court would issue notice on the date and time for delivery of the Judgment.

Passengers want Government to regulate number of passengers vehicles carry

By Nelson Manneh

Passengers are calling on the government to address the issue of overcrowding in vehicles.

The reporter visited some car parks and observed that four people sit in a row in the vans and ‘gele-gele’. One of the preventive measures recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) is self-distancing.

Mariama Jawara, a passenger found at the Brikama car park said the government should urge commercial vehicle drivers to reduce the number of passengers they carry in order to avoid the overcrowding of passengers in the vehicles.

The number of cases of Coronavirus is increasing every day worldwide and the Gambia has registered three (3) confirmed cases of the virus. Many people are being quarantined by health officers.

Madam Jawara said the government should put in place measures to make sure that drivers of vehicles reduce the number of passengers they carry.

“Some of these drives who are carrying four passengers on a seat can reduce it to three so that when people sit in a vehicle, they will be comfortable,” she said.

She said with the Coronavirus, it is advisable that people should distance themselves from one another at least one meter but this is inapplicable in commercial vehicles.

Lamin Darboe another passenger said whenever he enters a vehicle, he is not always comfortable because of the overcrowding of the vehicles.

“With this coronavirus, the authorities should put in place measures to make sure that people are not crowded in vehicles,” he said.

He continued: “During this trying moment people should be forced to comply with certain things especially with the preventive measures recommended by the WHO,” he noted.

Malang Camara, a van driver said petrol is very expensive and if they are forced to reduce the number of passengers they carry, then most of them will end up staying at home.

“I will prefer not going to work than reducing the number of passengers I carry,” he said.

All the drivers the reporter spoke with expressed similar sentiment sas stated by Camara. Their main concern is the price of fuel. Their contention is the price of fuel is high and if they reduce the number of passengers, then they will risk running at a loss.

For their part, the passengers suggested that this is a difficult time in the history of the country in which the Coronavirus is spreading worldwide. They said the drivers should understand the situation and reduce the number of people they carry.

Halifa Calls on Gambians to Unite Against Deadly Coronavirus

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Halifa Sallah, the PDOIS Secretary General has called on Gambians to form a united front against the coronavirus, warning that the deadly disease is here and it is dangerous.

Mr. Sallah in an address to the nation on Tuesday, said extraordinary times require extraordinary measures; that thinkers have said that the sum of the parts cannot be equal to the whole; that Gambians cannot use limited measures to deal with a global pandemic. Halifa said the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the disease a global pandemic when it started in China, a nation of over one billion people; that it has now spread all over the world including the Gambia.

“The fact that the illness is found all the way in Numuyel, shows very clearly how small this world is. From France to Numuyel confirms to us that we are not isolated from the illness and from the sources of the infection. We must be prepared. But how prepared are we? Those who are entering the country from areas where the illness is prevalent must develop the maturity to be ready to be subjected to observation. That is the way to protect ourselves. That is the way to protect our families. It is also important for the State to know that when a person is discovered to have the symptoms, the person must be taken care of by someone. These are the health workers who are the front-line fighters of the pandemic. They are the sons and daughters of this country and must be provided with adequate outfits and gadgets so that when they handle those with the illness, they would not have any fear of their lives being put in danger. That is the primary task that must be handled with the 500 million dalasi allocation from the President, to deal with this pandemic.

Halifa said it is important for all Gambians to understand that preliminary clinical observations, is just one phase of prevention and protection; that clinical tests must be available to be able to fully come to terms on whether a person has the illness or not; that we must therefore equip the observatories and disease control centres, so that they will be able to handle the pandemic professionally; that it is also important to sensitize the citizenry so that the sources of infections can be handled with professionalism and maturity.

Halifa said cleanliness particularly washing of the hands is deemed to be one of the first ways of preventing the illness and that all these actions require resources.

“Therefore, the Gambian people as a whole must be ready to act collectively to be able to handle what is now an urgent crisis of monumental proportions. It is therefore important that each of us is ready to take one’s responsibility so that through concerted action, we will be able to defeat an enemy that is ready to commit deaths of monumental proportions against the citizenry of a whole country,’’ Sallah said; that this is a battle for our lives, the lives of our children and that of our children’s children and we must not allow ourselves to be complacent; that this is why this message is brought to all and sundry so that we can act together to live and defeat COVID-19. He concludes that we must act to defeat COVID-19 and we must act now.

Cuban Foreign Affairs Minister Urges for Concerted Efforts against COVID-19

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By: Kebba AF Touray

The Foreign Affairs Minister of the Republic of Cuba Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, has called on countries to make concerted efforts to combat COVID-19. The appeal was conveyed in a press release issued by its Embassy in the Gambia on Wednesday March 25th 2020.

The release reiterated Cuba’s call for a virtual technical workshop to share experiences on the coronavirus, with the conviction to overcome it.

“Cuba calls for a virtual technical workshop between health specialists to establish communication channels, share experiences and information to face Covid-19,” the release indicated; that such efforts should include all countries of the hemisphere including Canada and the USA.

The Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla who made the announcement during the first Extraordinary meeting of Foreign Ministers and Health Associations of Caribbean States (ACS), said urgent efforts are needed to tackle the pandemic. Parrilla said the region faces a crisis that exceeds all ACS member countries whose consequences will be severe and lasting.

“The rapid spread of the disease demands that we unite our wills to develop joint actions of cooperation that will make it possible for us to face Covid-19,” he said.

According to Parrilla, this is due to the fact that time demands setting aside political differences, to combat the global pandemic.

“Each country can and must contribute what it can. The pandemic does not respect borders or ideologies. To face such a serious challenge, we must join forces and support each other,” the Cuban Foreign Minister said; that a regional response to COVID-19 must include strategies for testing, care giving, communication, supply coordination, food security, immigration as well as mapping out the psychological impact of the virus and quarantine. He said reality requires putting the will to act and solidarity before inaction and selfishness as humanity demands for an effective solution.

“The Caribbean countries will also have to face devastating and lasting effects in the economic and social spheres once the pandemic is over,” Parrilla said.

The ACS Ministerial Extraordinary Meeting was attended by over 33 countries, territories and regional organizations.

PDOIS Ward Councillors Distribute Hand Sanitizers Amid Coronavirus Scare

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Wards Councillors of the People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) in Serrekunda together with their party’s Secretary General Halifa Sallah, on Saturday March 21st 2020 distributed hand washing buckets and sanitizers to various public centers within their Wards, in an effort to combat the spread of the Coronavirus. The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) declaration of the Coronavirus as a global pandemic came in the wake of its rapid spread worldwide. The epidemic which broke out in China in 2019, led many to call the disease ‘Chinese disease’. Residents of Bartez, London and Kololi wards which are in the hands of the PDOIS were among the first beneficiaries of the virus preventive distributed sanitary materials. Frequent hand washing culture is one of the most outstanding advice of the preventive measure advised by WHO.

Speaking during the distribution of the items, London Ward Councilor Musa Cham expressed concern with the state of affairs of the country in terms of social behavior and interaction; that the virus dislikes social contacts and un-hygienic practices and this compelled them as a party to contribute their quota to save lives.

“As a party, the exercise is in fulfillment of our social responsibility particularly at this moment which demands the collective efforts of everyone, to combat the virus,” said Cham; that the intervention has no connection to politics but is a national solidarity to fight a global menace.

The distribution exercise targeted youth groups such as ‘vous’, children’s playgrounds and other strategic areas within London Corner and other Wards.

Ebrima Jarju, a resident of London Corner appreciated the gesture and called on other political leaders and civil society organizations to follow-suit, to complement what he described as a national emergency respond.

“This period is not for politics. It is time of put politics aside and demonstrate solidarity against this fearful disease,” Jarju said. He called for more sensitization at places where people do not believe in the existence of the disease; that although those areas are not mentioned, he as a social worker interacts with people and this was how he came to know about it. On his suggestion on the type of sensitization for such areas, Jarju said peer and house to house sensitization will surely drive the message home.

At the Serre Kunda Bartez Ward, Councillor Karim Darboe targeted Mosques, the Serekunda market, Police Stations and the Sandika Health facility.

Speaking in an interview, Darboe explained the high population density as reason for targeting those areas within his Ward; that the Serekunda market being one of the busiest in the country, makes it difficult for the Kanifing Municipal Council to satisfy everyone with items to protect themselves; that this is what led to their intervention.

Mami Ceesay, Abdou Touray and Imam Muhammed Cham all appreciated the gesture and enjoined everyone to take ownership of the exercise.

Speaking during the distribution exercise, Imam Cham said religious leaders cannot be left behind in the battle against the coronavirus; that they can be easily infected by their faithful followers and carriers at the same time; that Imams can assist in disseminating preventive and protective measures during the exercise.

‘‘In fact, cleanliness is next to Godliness and God has mentioned the importance of cleanliness in many verses of the Holy Quran,’’ he said.

The sensitization and distribution continues in Kololi Ward on Sunday.

How Many Confirmed Cases Of COVID-19 Have Been Announced By The Authorities?

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The health authorities have confirmed three cases of COVID-19 since the first case was announced on 17th March, 2020. They are two males and one female.

The first confirmed case is a 28-year old female who arrived from London on 15th march 2020. She is under treatment. The second case is that of a 70-year old Bangladeshi cleric resident in Bundung who arrived from Senegal on 14th March, 2020. He passed away on 20th March 2020. The third case is a 71-year Gambian residing in Numuyel who arrived from France on 17th March 2020. He is under treatment.

The age, gender, nationality and residential gaps of those infected by the virus confirms that the pandemic affects all strata of society if not properly handled. The cleric who is a God fearing believer cannot be said to be ill because he is being punished by God. Hence preaching that the illness is for punishment when it is affecting pious human beings would not be the right message to spread. Once the illness is attributed to punishment for wrong doing, those infected may cover-up their illness for fear of being stigmatized. Prince Charles has not covered up the fact that he has the illness. Who else in UK is safe? The illness should be acknowledged and accepted by all regardless of faith or faithlessness. We are all in it together and must struggle to overcome it for the common good.

Death Looming In Our Hospitals Due To Public Apathy

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The blood banks in our hospitals are drying up. Patients often spend days searching for blood donors. Family members queue up but in some instances they will not have the rare blood to save their loved ones. This is a country that claims to have ninety-five percent believers. What can be more glorious and greater manifestation of being an ambassador of one’s faith than to save life? All Gambians should venture to donate blood because the life you save may be your own. No one is immune to illness that will require blood.

Donating blood will enable the person to go through clinical tests that would help in confirming one’s good health, one’s blood group and be on record to be given priority in getting blood should one be at risk. As Gambians combat COVID-19, each should undertake to donate blood and all religious organisations, NGOs; all learning institutions, especially secondary and tertiary institutions should have teams that will mobilise their peers to go to the hospitals of their choice to donate blood.

Foroyaa will continue to keep this campaign alive so that we demonstrate our common sense of humanity by taking our precious blood to save the lives of other human beings. Instead of shedding blood we should add it to the veins of others to keep humanity alive.

Gambia Maritime Administration sues former employee claiming for 1 million dalasis

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By Yankuba Jallow

The Gambia Maritime Administration (Plaintiff) has sued former employee Raymond Sarr of Bakoteh claiming for over a million dalasis (D1,057,756.00).

Lawyer Malick H.B. Jallow, the Counsel to Sarr has registered his objection on the basis that the High Court lacks the jurisdiction to hear the suit.

The plaintiffs (Martime Administration) are claiming for a sum of D61, 110.08 being the balance outstanding on the Emergency Loan Facility granted to Mr. Sarr. Also, the Plaintiff is claiming for the sum of D3, 083.33 being the balance outstanding on the miscellaneous Loan Facility granted to the defendant.

In addition, the claimants (Maritime Adminstration) are claiming for the sum of D14, 291.50 being the amount due to the plaintiff from the Defendant for the payment of salary in lieu of notice for his resignation.

The Claimants are claiming for the sum of D437, 634.75, that is due and outstanding on the car Loan Facility granted to the Defendant by the Plaintiff. Finally, the Claimants are claiming for the sum of D541, 626.73 cost incurred by the Plaintiff during the course of the training for the Master’s Degree program including allowance.

The matter was first mentioned at the high court on the 30th day of January, 2020 and is now set for hearing on the 17th February, 2020 regarding an application by Defense Counsel Malick H.B Jallow seeking dismissal of the suit on grounds that the High Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

CRC To Submit Final Draft Constitution On Monday

The Constitutional Review Commission is pleased to announce to Gambians that the much anticipated Draft Constitution is finalized and will be submitted to His Excellency, President Adama Barrow at State House on Monday 30th March, 2020.

This follows a series of consultations with Gambians at home and abroad as to how they wish to be governed in the new Draft Constitution. It could be recalled that, the CRC made a promise to Gambians at a press conference held on Monday 27th January, 2020 that it will submit the final Draft Constitution to the President not later than March, 2020.

It is gratifying to note that a lot of effort was invested by Gambians from all walks of life to ensure that the Commission produces a Constitution that will stand the test of time and become a model for not only the African continent but the World at large.

The CRC will also publish, on Tuesday 31st March, 2020, the final Draft Constitution and the accompanying Report on its website (www.crc220.org) and via its social media platforms (Twitter: @crcgambia, Linkedin: crc@gambia and Facebook: Constitutional Review Commission, The Gambia) to give Gambians the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the contents of this national document of great importance.

CRC Press Release, For Immediate release, March 26, 2020

SK Market Management, Vendors Committee Explain KMC’s Decision to Close Shops

By Yankuba Jallow & Isatou Kanyi

The Manager of the Serrekunda Market on Thursday told Foroyaa that the decision to close shops at 6 pm emanated from the KMC.

On Wednesday, 25th March all shops at the Serrekunda Market were closed by municipal police and personnel of the Gambia Police Force.

Some of the vendors told Foroyaa they were not informed of the Council’s decision before the security personnel came and closed their shops.

Modou Njie, the Market Manager said since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, Mayor Talib Ahmed Bensouda has always showed concern especially on the side of the markets.

Manager Njie said their management has been meeting on several times to discuss the mechanism to put in place to ensure that people are not infected with the Coronavirus.

Njie explained that Mayor Bensouda wrote to the IGP on Wednesday, 25th March to provide reinforcement to close all shops latest 6 pm and allow them to reopen 7 am.

“The food shops are considered, but left to him (Mayor Bensouda) alone the market would have been closed,” Njie said.

Njie said the decision was communicated to the vendors by the Market Committee. He added that the decision will last until the fight against Coronavirus is won.

On the safety of those who sell in the morning and afternoon, he said: “Actually it is not safe but Council (KMC) and some associations are doing very well by providing buckets with detergents in the markets.”

Njie said the closure of the shops in the evening will greatly affect business.

“Definitely it is going to create a very big impact. Closing the shops at 6 pm will affect business. If you know the Serrekunda Market very well, in the evening, business flourishes very well. In fact, that is the time many people come to the market,” he said.

He said in the morning, the people who usually come to the market are those that come shopping for food.

“In the evening, it is very difficult to have access to the market. It is the time many people come for business,” he said.

He said the closure of the market at 6pm is to ensure crowds do not gather in the market in the evening.

He said the police are helping them to create distances between vendors for their safety. He told Foroyaa that the street vendors were also informed about the Council’s decision.

Pa Jabbie, the Chairman of the Serrekunda Market Committee said the decision of the Council to close the market was communicated to the Market Manager and it was passed to them to disseminate the information to the vendors.

“Three to four days ago, Mayor Talib Bensouda wanted to close the market but we went to him and we discussed with him until we agreed to close it at 6 pm daily,” Jabbie said.

The Mayor agreed with our plea because we explained the condition of the vendors to him; adding this is because if the market is closed, it will not be good for the vendors.

Chairman Jabbie said after the Council’s decision was communicated to them, he went round the market together with his PRO and informed the vendors about it.

“We will start business every day at 7 am up to 6 pm,” he said.

Jabbie said the decision will affect their business, adding that it is also to protect them from Coronavirus. He said the Council on Tuesday night fumigated the whole market and they have also placed buckets filled with detergents around the market for people to wash their hands.

“If you go round the market, for every 5 to 10 meters, you will find a bucket where you can wash your hands with detergents,” he said.

The reporters went around the town to observe the impact of the Coronavirus on the business of people. It was observed that the majority of the restaurants were closed. Speaking with some vendors, they said business is going fine for them since the announcement on the ban of public gathering.

At the markets, it was observed that the adherence to safety precaution to protect oneself from the Coronavirus is not been followed. People were seen mingling and the crowd was huge.

Lamarana Jallow, a vendor along the Brikama car park in Serrekunda said her business is not going well. She said people are not buying her fruits.

In a related development, Abdoulie Camara, the Secretary General of the Latrikunda Market Committee said KMC has allocated 6 buckets for use in their market, adding that it is not sufficient. He told Foroyaa that some parts of their market lack buckets. He explained that on Wednesday, policemen and women together with municipal police came to the market around 6 pm and instructed all vendors to close their shops. He said they were not informed by Council that they were going to close the market at 6pm.

Amadou Njie, a vendor said they need buckets with detergents for hand washing, adding they are using their money to buy sanitizers. He said KMC has given out buckets to some areas, but the distribution hasn’t reached the Latrikunda market.

Sulayman Jallow said: “We need to make sure we observe personal hygiene, but water is our biggest problem. The market lacks toilets and we only have one tap in the whole market.”

Jallow said the Council has now increased their rate from D300 to D500.

“We feed our families and pay our children’s school fees from our business. The business is not going fine with us,” he concluded.

The reporters went to Kanifing Municipal Council, but they were told the PRO was not at work and when she was contacted, she said she has taken leave of work. The reporters went back to the Council and they were referred to one Mr. Sanyang said to be the Director of Services at the Council, who chose to ring off the phone calls from the reporters. Foroyaa will continue to monitor the situation.

Health Minister denies rumour of new confirmed case of Coronavirus in Brikama

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By Ndey Sowe

The Minister of Health on Wednesday dispelled the social media rumour suggesting that there is a new confirmed case of Coronavirus in Brikama.

Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh said: “I am not aware of a new case in Brikama and we will let you know when we get any information”.

Minister Samateh was speaking to the press on Wednesday, 26th March 2020 at his office regarding the situation of the global pandemic, Coronavirus.

Dr. Samateh warned that Coronavirus (COVID 19) is not a joke. He challenged everyone to take it seriously to make sure it does not spread in the country.

Abubacarr Sankanu, a member of the National Health Emergency Committee on COVID-19 Risk Communication also dismissed the social media rumour that a case of Coronavirus is registered in Brikama. He appealed to the general public to be responsible and wait for official information from the Ministry.

Modou Njai, the Director of Health Promotion said: “I did not have the information as to whether the whole Numuyel Community is locked down.”

He said he is informed that it is only the compound where the confirmed person is from that has been locked down.

He, therefore, appealed to the general public to wait for official information from them rather than sharing information without an official confirmation from them.

“We want to make it very clear that there is no test of COVID-19 that is done in Brikama”, he said.

He said Brikama does not have any testing facilities and no test is being carried out there.

He averred that even the health personnel in Brikama are not aware of any single case pertaining to COVID-19.

“This is very serious. Nothing has happened in Brikama. We want to tell the public that the information is false,” he said.

He urged people not to rely on social media platforms, adding that the rumour has brought about an alarm in Brikama.

Bangladeshi preacher laid to rest

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By Ndey Sowe

A Bangladeshi national who died of Coronavirus has been laid to rest on Wednesday at the Jeshwang Cemetery by the Red Cross.

The 70-year-old, whose name is withheld by the authorities, came to The Gambia on the 14th March 2020 and passed away on the 20th March 2020 on his way to the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital. He was confirmed to be positive of the virus after he died.

A 47-year-old Bangladeshi national who is a travelled companion of the deceased, is under quarantine, his samples were collected on the 26th March for further testing.

The Gambia so far have 3 COVID-19 confirmed cases and 1 probable case according to health officials.

Modou Njai, the Director of Health Promotion at the Ministry of Health said the number of people under quarantine is still 177.

He said: “Health staffs are conducting routine immunization services to further sensitize mothers on the importance of social distancing.”

He said there will be an expansion of COVID 19 testing facilities to the National Public Health Laboratory BL3 Laboratory.

He also disclosed that the Public Health Emergency Operation Center (PHECO) will be fumigated. He said they will recruit additional personnel for the response, including contact tracers and Rapid Response Teams (RRTs).

How should the minister of health show transparency regarding the observatories to control COVID-19?

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

The ministry has to provide media practitioners from all media houses with appropriate outfits and disinfectants to visit all places where people are kept for observation and show the nation how people are kept until they are satisfied in releasing them. It is the view of experts that elderly people and those suffering from diabetes or hypertension are most vulnerable when it comes to COVID-19. They could easily face death without adequate protection.

Detention should therefore not expose anyone who has not contracted the illness to do so whilst under observation. This means that the environment for protective observation should be ideal in preventing any possibility of contracting the illness.

Is the media fully sensitised on how to handle COVID-19?

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

It is common to find different opinions being expressed in the media regarding the origin of COVID-19. Scientists say that it is a virus and they have traced its origin to Wuhan in China. They have developed means to test it but they are yet to develop a cure for it.

Some papers however are attributing the origin of COVID-19 to a curse and some even claim that they have a cure even though the scientists are saying that there is no anti-viral cure for the illness. Media houses should disseminate the truth or what they believe to be true. The minister should therefore organise sensitisation to enable media houses to disseminate the truth about COVID-19 in good faith and in the public interest. The population should not be confused. We should speak with one voice. This is not possible unless we have knowledge of the illness, its form of transmission and how to prevent the virus from infecting more people in the country. We must be sure of the cause of the illness, the means of prevention and the availability or non-availability of a cure.

Is illness a stigma or a natural phenomenon?

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Plagues have been known to humankind since time immemorial. Hurricanes, psunamis have been devastating countries and communities, causing death and destruction; hunger and poverty. If one compares the life of those affected and the lives where the natural disaster did not occur one is likely to see the same lifestyle.

Saints and villains have all had communicable diseases and non-communicable ones. A person like Nelson Mandela had tuberculosis which did not deter him from being the first president of a united Republic of South Africa. Hence it is important for human beings to put illness in its right perspective as an enemy of humankind requiring redress. Human society has the duty to produce the scientists who would study the nature and characteristics of illnesses and their cure and then train the doctors who would be able to diagnose and treat the illnesses.

We must therefore avoid giving the impression that those who contract illnesses have done evil things and are paying for them by virtue of having an illness. Illness like poverty has causes and our duty is not to surrender to their mischief.

Serrekunda Market Vendors Lose Customers amidst the Coronavirus Scare

By Isatou Kanyi

Vendors at Serekunda market, the country’s busiest, have described how they continue to lose customers amidst fears of the deadly coronavirus that has hit the country.

This came in the wake of confirmed reports that a young woman who had returned from the United Kingdom, contracted the deadly virus.

This deadly disease has affected our businesses. Basic commodities such as rice, has increased to D1, 250 per bag and sugar, onion and oils have all increased according to the market vendors.

They explained how the virus has affected their social lives and said this would take time before normal business activities return to the market. They lamented on other challenges like the suspension of public gatherings; that this includes market activities where they earn a living.

Ba Jaiteh Marong explained how the global pandemic has affected his business.
“We rely on suppliers to buy from them and resell to make profit. We now face difficulties in our businesses because most of our exports come from China. This has stopped due to the global Coronavirus pandemic,’’ he said; that as petty traders, they cannot increase prices on consumers; that there are sanitizers everywhere to protect oneself including those coming to the market.

Fatou Manneh who is a vendor at the Serekunda Market said her business is in decline; that we should come together to prevent the spread of the deadly disease in the country.

Mariama Senghore, another petty-trader explained that customers are no longer coming forward to buy from them in fear of the virus; that they will sit whole day without selling anything; that people will stroll pass their food items without buying anything.

“Customers should not fear to buy our food,’’ Ms. Senghore said; that they know the risks involved and they have been updated on the virus by health officers.

Ms. Senghore said they are compelled to go out and sell because they have to feed their families and pay for their children’s School fees and house rents.

NAWEC, ‘DOKU Group’ Join the Fight Against COVID-19

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By: Kebba AF Touray

Since the declaration and confirmation of COVID-19 in the Gambia, efforts continue to be strengthened by Government and civil society to prevent the disease from affecting the populace. Although the Health Ministry has confirmed the third case of the global pandemic in the country, the citizenry are not relenting in the fight against this disease.

The latest to join the fight is the nation’s Utility Company NAWEC, in collaboration with ‘DOKU GROUP’.

The two groups on Tuesday March 24th donated to the residents of Wellingara in the West Coast Region, water tanks and hand sanitizers, in order to ‘kill two birds with one stone’. This is meant to address the water shortage and to help prevent the COVID-19 spread in communities.

Yaya Nyanghado, Isatou Jawo and Mba Saidykhan, all residents of Wellingara Bantaba, hailed NAWEC and ‘DOKU GROUP’ for the initiative in the fight against the coronavirus disease and by extension in addressing the acute water crisis that has hit them for some time.

“Water is a necessity for human sanity and other household chores. This gesture will help our communities to access portable water, as well as empower us to fight vigorously against the deadly coronavirus,” they said.

Elsewhere at Wellingara market, Landing Colley informed that the donation was in response to a request made to NAWEC to help them mitigate against the water crisis in their area.
“Our donors did not only respond to our request, but went further to help us with hand sanitizers and soap to clean wash our hands clean and to kick the COVID-19 out of the Gambia,” he said; that they will monitor the tank and sanitizers to make sure whoever comes to fetch water, will first clean their hands using the sanitizers before having access to fetch water. He thanked NAWEC and DOKU GROUP for the gesture and assured that the items will put into good use.

Gallo Saidy, the Managing Director of DOKU GROUP on behalf of the donors, told the communities that the ultimate objective of the initiative is to provide the communities with portable water and empower them with the requisite items to prevent the coronavirus spread. He urged the communities to be vigilant and make the best use of the tank and sanitizers to ensure sustainability and adhere strictly to the preventive measures so as to attain victory in the fight against COVID-19.

IEC to Conduct By-Election in Kerr Jarga Ward

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By Nelson Manneh

The Independent Electoral Commission will conduct a by-election in Kerr Jarga Ward to fill a vacant seat in the Kerewan Area Council. According to the IEC, the vacancy follows the notification from the Kerewan Area Council of the resignation of the erstwhile Councillor for Kerr Jarga Ward Mr. Alpha M. Khan.

The government of the Gambia prior to the confirmation of the first coronavirus case has suspended all public gathering and this has prompt the IEC to even postponed the by-election for Niamina West Constituency that was scheduled for the 16th April 2020 till further notice.

In a press release issued by the IEC it states, this in normal circumstances would have been in accordance with Section 23 of the Local Government Act 2002; with respect to Section 19 (c) of the same Act – the by-election to be conducted within two months of the receipt of the notification.

However, the release indicates that due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the date for the by-election will be announced in due course.