The United Democratic Party (UDP) Mayoress Rohey Malick Lowe yesterday verbally attacked Gambia’s Transport, Works and Infrastructure Minister Bai Lamin Jobe. Jobe was on a tour of the city to assess the current road and infrastructural projects being carried out in Banjul, when he was suddenly confronted by the Mayoress. Mayoress Lowe descended on the Minister and his entourage upon hearing that they were touring her city to cause what was widely described by onlookers as a “drama.”
Mrs. Lowe began her speech by praising Works Minister Jobe, before going off on him and the Barrow administration. She repeatedly complained about being marginalized by the government on the Banjul multi-million dollars rehabilitation project. Lowe says she had no paperwork before her office about the said project. She felt that a project of such nature cannot be executed in her city, without her council being part of it.
“ I did not see any project document. I am the Mayoress of Banjul. I should be kept in the loop about any project that is going be implemented in my city,” she lamented in the local Wollof dialect.
Lowe said in the absence of project documents made available before her office, she wouldn’t be able know how much the said project entails, and the number of roads that are going to be constructed in Banjul.
“Journalists often hounded me about the said project. I do not have any project documents. I am making this disclosure in the presence of the Minister. You should direct all your questions about the project to the Minister,” she added.
She added that she had written to the Ministry of Lands in the past about the said project. She also had discussions with Hadim Gai, the foreman and contractor of the project.
“I was told by the government that the BCC should stay away from this project. They told me that this project is a Central government project and the BCC has no business in it. They said the project falls within the purview of the Works Minister,” she said.
Works Minister Lamin Jobe earlier on told Star FM in an interview that the Banjul road and sewage rehabilitation project was being financed by the contractor Hadim Gai and not The Gambia government. Jobe says the government lacks funds to finance such a magnificent project; hence it had decided to look for a financier.
According to Jobe, the government had reached a loan agreement with the project financier Hadim Gai. He added that it may take the government five years to pay off the loan.
Jobe also said the project is being supervised by an international consultant, who was contracted to construct the Senegambia bridge. Jobe denied the Mayoress’s allegations that the BCC, was being sidelined as far as the project in question was concerned.
” This country is used to project tendering. You can only tender a project if there is money to pay up the contractors. Under the circumstances, the government doesn’t have money to finance the project. This is what is called EPC contract. The arraignment here is for the contractor to finance the project and then the government would pay him. The government has not spent any money on this project. It is not as if we got money to pay a contractor. I want that to be very clear. It is being funded by Hadim Gai,” Jobe said.
“Banjul has reached a stage that it needs an urgent fixing of its infrastructure. We cannot afford to wait anymore. We cannot afford to fold our hands; hoping that money can be raised to fix the problem. One of the things that I mentioned to the President, when he appointed me, was about Banjul. We are trying to be creative. There is too much talk about this project. The contractor is Hadim Gai. The supervisor works for the company, which supervised the Sengambia bridge project; that was the company that supervised the construction of the Senegambia bridge,” he remarked.
Jobe said a project steering committee would be formed in which the BCC, the Ministry of Works, NAWEC and other stakeholders would be part of it.
“This project should not be politicized. Banjul needs help. We should work together to ensure that the project is accomplished. We should work towards the development of the nation,” he said.
“ We should put politics aside and work towards the development of this country. This country has been derailed in terms of development for over twenty years. It is time for work. People can talk, but we should not forget that we have a job to do,” he added.
Mariama Ndure, Permanent Secretary at the works Ministry, also weighed in during the Minister’s interview with Star FM. She debunked Mayoress Rohey Lowe’s claims that her council had been sidelined by the government in regard to the said project.
“From day one, the BCC, was involved in the project. It is not that they were not involved in the project. When the project was first conceived, the Mayoress used to attend our meetings. Hadim was identified as the contractor. Hadim is capable. He is working with a foreign consultant. There is going to be a project implementation unit. The BCC has not been sidelined. We will write to them once the steering committee is constituted,” Mrs. Ndure said.
Minister Jobe said one of the reasons why he is upset is because the contractor Hadim Gai, is being discriminated by his critics because he is a Gambian. He says if the contractor was a foreigner, such an outrage would not have happened.
“If the contract was given to a “Narr” (Lebanese), Indian, or white man, you will not hear any public outcry. We should walkaway from that culture of pull him down syndrome. What is left for us Gambians is to see sell palm oil and peanuts in the streets. Each time, there is a Gambian trying to do something for his country, there will be public outrage; why? I just don’t get it,” Jobe, who spoke in the local Wollof dialect lamented.
Jobe added that out of the number of civil works (Engineering works) being done in the country, The Gambia, only realizes five percent of the money in those projects. He says the greater chunk of the money is usually stashed in foreign bank accounts.
“The rest of the money goes out of the country. Only five percent of the money stays in this country. We should embrace and support our own people,” he said.
Mayoress Lowe told Minister Jobe that she was under pressure from her Councilors, who often bombarded her with questions about the said Banjul road project. Her statement was buttressed by one Katim Touray, an engineer at the BBC. Touray also said Lowe was under increasing pressure from the BCC Councilors.
Meanwhile, the Freedom Newspaper, has received a communication from a concerned Gambian, in which the Banjul Mayoress, was invited to the launching of the multi-million dollars Banjul road and sewage project. Please read on…..
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai
Email: [email protected]