By: Kebba AF Touray
Gambia’s Interior Minister Yankuba Sonko, has told Members of the National Assembly that lack of resources has derailed the construction of a fire station in Sami Constituency.
Minister Sonko was elaborating on a question raised by the Member for Sami Constituency Alfusainey Cessay. Ceesay quizzed the Minister to inform the legislature of his Ministry’s plans to construct a fire station in his constituency.
“Building a fire service and staff accommodation require adequate resources which are not readily available at the moment. We will definitely look at it but as I said, the resources are not available as of now,” Minister Sonko said. He said building is one thing but equipping the station is the most expensive thing to do.
Asked about the long term plans for the construction of the aforesaid fire station, Minister Sonko reiterated that the resources are not available at the moment, but there are plans to construct a fire station in Sami constituency and other areas; that if one constructs a fire station at a particular location and there is no hydrant in that location, it would amount to putting a white elephant in a locality without use. He said the fire station comes with a lot of accessories such as a fully equipped fire tender which cost a lot with other gadgets.
“Plans are underway and if the resources are available, we will expand the coverage of fire service nationwide,” he said.
The Member for Basse Muhammed Maggasy, asked the Minister whether they will be able to fetch water from the river, since hydrants are a major constraint.
In his response, Minister Sonko said that requires an assessment of the targeted area’s feasibility. He however said it would be possible to draw water from the river but that this requires appropriate tools to be able to execute.
“Can the Minister update this assembly on the construction of a police station in Jiboroh? Asked Lamin FM Conta, the Member for Kombo East.
Minister Sonko in his response said plans are underway to build a Police station at Jiboroh Border Post. He said the German Agency for Internal Cooperation’s Police component support, is already in the country and they are about to renovate seven police stations including Serrekunda, Kairaba, Yundum, Bakau, Brikama, Bundung and Brusubi Police stations; that they will build two other stations as well; that Jiboroh is earmarked to be one of the two new stations that will be built. He said the GIZ Engineer is also in the country to do the assessment which has already been completed.
On his part, the Member for Brikama South Lamin J. Sanneh, asked the Minister to inform them on the reason why there exists a disparity between different nationals regarding payment of residential permits and Aliens’ Cards.
In his response, the Minister said the disparity is due to either a bilateral agreement between the two states or a presidential proclamation. He reminded the Assembly that in March 2005, there was a joint ministerial commission signed between Guinea Bissau and the Gambia, which exempted nationals from both countries from paying residential permits in these two countries.
“During the last Presidential visit of former Senegalese President Abdoulie Wade to the Gambia in 2011, the former President of the Gambia made a presidential proclamation that all Senegalese nationals are exempted from paying residential permits,” the Minister told Members; that similarly, during the former president’s visit to Guinea Conakry, president Alpha Condeh made a special appeal to Gambia’s former President to exempt Guinean nationals residing in the Gambia from paying residential permits.
This appeal he said, was granted and was also extended to other ECOWAS member citizens; that this is done in order to maintain a statistical record of residential permits issued in the Gambia as well as for exempted countries to account for their nationals in the country; that the non-Gambian Identity Card was introduced as a substitute.
The Member for Kombo South Kebba K. Barrow also asked the Minister to give reason(s) that led to the escape from the Central prisons in December, of one Buba Drammeh who was charged for the murder of someone in Gunjur whilst being remanded in custody.
In his response, Minister Sonko said the matter was investigated and reports have been sent to Attorney General’s Chambers for legal advice; that a Red Notice has been issued by Interpol, adding that currently, about three officers are interdicted and will remain under interdiction until advice is received from the Attorney General’s Chambers on what to do with them.
“The sooner we receive the outcome from of a legal advice from the Chambers, we will proceed with the matter, whether charges are going to be preferred against them or not,” he said.