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COVID-19: Gambia Extends State of Public Emergency on Strict Conditions

May 15, 2020

By Bakary Ceesay

Hon. Alhagie Mbow, Chairperson of the special select Committee
Hon. Alhagie Mbow, Chairperson of the special select Committee

National Assembly  Special Select Committee  on the Implementation of the State of Public Emergency has said that the further extension of the State of Public Emergency for a period of twenty-one days must be based on “strict adherence” to its implementation.

This came subject to government’s request for the ongoing State of Public Emergency to be extended for another forty-five days as it ends by next week.

In April, lawmakers in Banjul extended the initial 21-day period of emergency for additional 45 days that ushered in some restrictions in the fields of transport, and commerce.

The regulations closed all non-essential food outlets, schools, and places of worship across the country amidst public outcry of hardship in the partial lockdown.

Hon. Alhagie Mbow, Chairperson of the special select Committee, today  presented that “the State of Public Emergency [would] be extended to a further 21 days subject to strict adherence to the implementation of all the State of Public Emergency Regulations.”

The Committee explains that the adjustment is required because isolation centres are both ill-equipped and under-resourced in addition to the lack of treatment centres across the country.

Mbow, lamented that: “a lot of people in The Gambia continue to live in denial of the existence of Covid-19 and as such grossly disregard social distancing or any protective measures at public places particularly in the markets.”

Use Of Security And Legal Measures

The seven-man committee observed that borders are porous and as such people continue to illegally enter the country without notice, and without being quarantined.

In response their report argued that “a regulation to be in place to make it an offence for anyone, transport driver or compound owner, who assists any unauthorized traveller to enter the country or harbors any visitor or guest from abroad in his/her compound without notifying the health authorities.”

The position of deputies was in cognisant of the fact that Covid-19 cases continue to rise in neighbouring Senegal leading to a steady increase in the number of infections in The Gambia.

The national Assembly recommended for the army to be used to reinforce the regional taskforces in the implementation of the Regulations.

“There is need to deploy the navy to sea immediately to curb illegal entry into the country and to ensure foreign fishermen do not dock on the Gambian shores without being subjected to mandatory health checks and quarantine”, the committee stated.

The Gambia is currently nursing thirteen active cases of the coronavirus out a total number of twenty-three confirmed positive cases since March 17.

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