Banjul Road Project: 2nd Disbursement of D423 Million Has Just Been Paid Amid The Severe Fiscal Situation Of The Barrow Government

1958

Dear Mr. Mbai,

Whose interest is this government serving Adama Barrow and his cronies or the Gambian people?

The second disbursement of D423 million has been paid bringing the total amount paid so far to the Contracted within a year (February 2020 to February 2021) to be over D900 million. This is more than the combined budgets of the Ministries of Youths and Sports, Fisheries and Natural Resources, Tourism and Culture, and Gender, Children and Social Welfare.

The much controversial contract, awarded in a ‘no tender’ bid to Gai Construction Ltd in 2019 for a reportedly $35.6 million or D1.8 billion fee payable in five instalments is fraudulent and fraught with huge discrepancies. The contract is still not made available to the respective Parliamentarians, and todate many Gambians cannot still know exactly what the real value of the contract is let alone provided with the accurate data on how much installment payments to be made every year. Another D77 million has just been added to the original contract amount of D1.8 billion to cater for ‘additional work’ , obviously without following any required due process.

Every year, the finance minister in a desperate bid to raise the necessary revenues needed to pay the contractor, had to do the impossible in order to meet the huge annual installment payment to be made in the first week of February as specified in the poorly-designed contract agreement.

In January this year the government took over the revenues of the Senegambia Toll Bridge, secretly diverted grant receipts meant for the Covid-19 response, and forced GPA to pay dividend of D50 m when its 2020 Accounts has not yet been audited in order to prioritize the 2nd disbursement payment for the Banjul Road Project.

It would be recalled that the project to rehabilitate and improve the sewage and drainage systems of Banjul has been much criticized during the ordinary session of the National Assembly last year when Finance Minister Mambury Njie made his Oral Statement to Cabinet explained the over 300 percent increase in capital expenditure from D153 million in 2019 to D680 million in 2020, which he attributed to the huge payment made for the Banjul project.

There is no doubt that Banjul with 35, 000 inhabitants is going through tremendous changes in its appearance. However, the rehabilitation of a 14-km road network which also includes improving the drainage, and sewage systems of the capital city, is grossly over-valued. This became apparent when compared to the OIC project to construct a 50km Urban Road at a total value of $50 million. The OIC project is being subjected to international competitive bidding to be approved by the financing institution, the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD).  The systematic approach to the SDF funded project in line with best international practices highlighted the remarkable deficiencies in the planning, design and financing of the Banjul project.

Spending $35.6 million to rehabilitate a 14-kilometer road and sewage systems of Banjul without following established tender procedures especially when the whole project is being prefinanced by the contractor, cast serious doubt about the whole arrangements- from the way the project was conceived to the approval process by cabinet. Projects of such magnitude should have been adequately designed with detailed preparatory studies as well as rigorous appraisal reviews before implementation.

The Banjul project has all the hallmarks of an over-inflated project that is being executed amid gross violations of government transparency and public accountability requirements. The OIC project is meant to construct a 50km dual carriage new roads at a cost of $ 50 million. The Banjul Road project is to rehabilitate a 14km road network at a cost of $35.6 million. Based on this analysis, the Banjul project is no doubt grossly over-valued.

This government must be held to account for every taxpayers’ money laundered in a wasteful and badly designed project only to fill the pockets of greedy people who chose politics for personal enrichment and not to serve the interest of the people who elected them into office. The total amount spent so far (D900 million) does not commensurate with the amount of work done so far.

From: A Concerned Gambian

Join The Conversation