By Ramatoulie Jawo
The Banjul City Council, led by Mayor Rohey Malick Lowe, inaugurated the Banjul Safe City Project on February 5th, 2024, aiming to transform the city into a clean, crime-free, and child- and women-friendly environment. This initiative not only seeks to boost the city’s economy but also aspires to serve as a national model for collaborative development.
The Safe City Model encompasses various crucial elements, including environmental safety, protection against gender-based violence, crime reduction, the creation of child-friendly safe spaces, and the promotion of employment and employability development.
Key stakeholders involved in the project include the Ministry of Works Construction and Infrastructure, the Ministry of Environment Climate Change and Natural Resources, the Ministry of Tourism, UNFPA, and the Gambia Police Force.
During the launch, Mayor Rohey Malick Lowe reminisced about Banjul’s historical significance and expressed the need to return to the city’s potential as a trade and industry hub.
“I believe it is important for us to reflect on the city we were born or raised in as Banjulians we were born into a city that the British Empire deemed to be the perfect hub for trade and industry for the entire sub-region Banjul from inception was seen to be so perfectly geographically located that it was designed to be a giant trade center for commerce to serve all its neighbors,” she reflected.
She admitted that the city of Banjul has not yet reached its full potential.
“There has been, for decades, a gradual yet accumulative increase in crime and drug abuse. We have continued to receive countless reports of women being physically and sexually abused. We continue to receive reports of rape and molestation. Our vulnerable continue to feel the pressures of the greater society with no regard for their safety.
“Our children have been deprived of their childhood and have to speed up their being adults due to the lack of the right environment for their physiological growth and stability. They have no safe spaces to enjoy being children outside the school environment,” she highlighted.
She urged the people to believe in the great potential of Banjul and what they can accomplish together as a community of leaders in the public and private sectors, with their diverse backgrounds.
She envisioned Banjul to be a city that has the lowest crime rate in the sub-region, the most child-friendly city in the sub-region, and a city that respects the rights of women at home and at work.
Latir Carr, the project consultant, presented an overview of the project. He said the project has four objectives: reducing crime, eliminating gender-based violence, improving environmental and personal safety, and reducing poverty.
He also outlined the goals of the project, which include implementing an environmental management program to make the city litter-free by 2029, installing city lighting and community and digital monitoring and reporting systems to reduce crime by 60% by 2029, and implementing an environment protection plan to safeguard the city’s coastline, its mangrove habitats, and its diverse marine wildlife.
Ndey Rose Sarr, the UNFPA country representative, emphasized the importance of the Safe City project. She called on all the stakeholders to support the project, as it requires collective cooperation and they all have a crucial role to play.
“ The UNFPA and my humble self reiterated our commitment to supporting the Banjul Safe City project, and we really commend the mayor of Banjul for coming up with this great initiative,” she said.
Other speakers, including the Minister of Tourism, Arts, and Culture Hamat NK Bah, Minister of Public Service Babucarr Boye, and Minister of Environment Rohey John Manjang, pledged their support for the successful implementation of the project.