By Momodou Jarju
Lieutenant Colonel Abdoulie Manneh, Commanding Officer of the Guards Battalion at Bakau Barracks, has called for collaboration between them and the Gambia Police Force (GPF), to fight against crime especially within the Greater Banjul Area.
Lt. Colonel Manneh made the remarks last Tuesday during a visit to the Guards Battalion Headquarters by the Standing Committee on Defense and Security of the National Assembly, who began a five day fact-finding mission to Security Agencies and Units within the Kanifing Municipality (KM) and the West Coast Region since Monday.
Lt. Colonel Manneh said the general situation of the country needs to be revisited when compared to the first and second republics; that as opposed to the perception of many Gambians that they should not be involve in the internal security of the country, the 1997 constitution provides that they can partake in the internal security of the country; that this is why they have the Military Police.
‘‘The Guards Battalion is by Law tasked to proffer some policing responsibilities,’’ he asserted.
He recommended that Guards Battalion be equipped to supplement the efforts of the GPF to reduce the crime rate in the country, especially within the Greater Banjul Area.
Lt. Colonel Manneh highlighted other constraints the battalion is faced with. First, he said their administrative buildings are colonial structures; that though the buildings are solid, they do not serve the present administrations set up; that as a result there is need for better administrative structures for the battalion.
Speaking further, Manneh said the medical unit they have, has qualified doctors and nurses who can run a medical center but their constraints are drugs and equipment; that in addition to serving members of the battalion and the training School, they also serve the community of Bakau and Fajara which makes it necessary to consider equipping their clinic to the standards of a referral hospital.
Lt. Manneh said the unit caters for personnel on duty saying they have committed cooks and bakers, but fuel wood is their major challenge.
He explained that as a military installation, they should have arms and ammunition kept in a cool place.
“With the present electricity situation in the country, we need a cooling system to keep arms and ammunition and this requires us to have a standby generator which is not available,” he said.
He urged the Members of the NA committee to consider them; that 75% of their soldiers live in town due to lack of accommodation; that attempts were made to renovate some buildings but that has not paid dividend because only few buildings were renovated.
Lt. Manneh said transportation is another challenge they are grappling with and that this is one of the most important requirements for their operational activities as a unit.
In his response, Hon. Momodou L.K. Sanneh, the Chairperson of the Committee and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, said their committee started functioning in the new dispensation because it was dormant before; that as a result, they inherited no documents or activity report(s) of Security Agencies and their various Units.
He assured the Barracks Commandant that the concerns are noted and they would be presented at the plenary session where all National Assembly Members will debate on them and take possible steps to address the concerns raised.
Part of the program highlight was a guard of honor accorded to the Deputy Speaker and Chairperson of the Committee. This was the first of its kind as the Chairperson attested.