By Yankuba Jallow
This year, the KMC will not be cleaning the gutters within the Municipality because they are faced with financial challenges amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Roads Authority, the body responsible for road works, have not done any cleaning of the gutters yet, to allow the easy passage of runoff water during the rains. Several attempts to speak to the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Works and Construction proved unsuccessful.
Weather forecasters suggest that there will be high to very high rainfall this year and meaning that plans should have been afoot to clean the gutters by now. This is because if the runoff water has no passage then there is a high likelihood of disaster in many flood prone areas within the Municipality.
Every year the Kanifing Municipal Council embarks on what we call they called ‘Operation Clean the Drain’. This exercise was done in 2018 and 2019. In 2017 alone, about four hundred households were affected by floods and attempts to get statistics for 2018 and 2019 proved unsuccessful.
“We were planning it (the cleaning of the drains) again this year. However, due to the constraints of resources, we are trying to target it at a limited basis to focus on areas that have the highest impact,” Mayor Talib Bensouda told Foroyaa in an exclusive interview.
According to the Mayor, they have decided to leave out the cleaning of the drains this year and focus on the Kotu stream. The Mayor said the idea behind this is because of the believe that the stream, which runs from Kotu and empties into Abuko, is the cause of most of the flooding within the Municipality; that because of this, “the exercise (cleaning of the drains) unfortunately cannot be as widespread in scope as the years before, due to financial constraints.” Mayor Bensouda further said their biggest constraint is financial.
“As you know, Council survives from business licenses, property rates and market duties and the shutdown has affected many people’s income both individuals and businesses. Vendors are finding it very difficult to pay their taxes. So of course, finance of the Council is suffering and we do not have the luxury of getting grants like Central Government or credit from other countries. So it is a very tough time for the local government,” Bensouda said.
He appealed to Government to support Councils from some of the grants they are getting, to make sure that Councils are also sub-vented and able in delivering services to the people.
“We are not sub-vented yet. So far, none of the Councils is sub-vented. All of them are hurt right now and they find it difficult to maintain services,” Bensouda said.
Nyima Camara, the Director of Planning and Development at the Kanifing Municipal Council said for the past two years, the KMC took the bold decision to address the issues of flooding.
“Most of the flooding happens on the highways. There are drains on the highways, but the drains are the sole responsibility of the NRA (National Roads Authority,” she said; that nonetheless, when floods happen, it affects the community and the community are the responsibility of the KMC.