Monday, April 12, 2021

Ministry Reveals Total Number of Gov’t Owned-buildings Unknown

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By Kebba Secka

Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure last Thursday informed lawmakers in Banjul that it has no data about the total number of government owned-buildings across the country.

The ministry made the disclosure while presenting its 2018 and 2019 activity reports before the National Assembly Monitoring Committee that monitors the implementations of government projects and infrastructures.

However, the Director of Planning, Essa Drammeh who was the report presenter while commenting on public buildings and facility policy of their ministry, was quick to add that efforts are underway to gather the total number.

“There’s no government sector’s wide Policy to encourage the sustainable use and maintenance of government buildings and facilities,” said Drammeh.

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Nonetheless, Mr. Drammeh underlined several challenges in the sector including mobility to address the needs of the two million population of the country.

The report also outlined weak institutional capacity for the Ministry to handle transport constraint because there was no transport unit, until recently when a directorate of transport was created to address transportation concerns and needs.

Mr. Drammeh said the ministry has no vehicles maintenance policy after exhaustion of usage.  He also revealed that the ministry has no policy for maintenance and use of public buildings as well as integration of transport mode like maritime and land transportations.

According to him, the ministry has an inadequate transport policy and regulations of bids for contractors and more importantly, ‘laws on road transport are out dated and inefficient.’  

Mr. Drammeh reported that there are limited local road contractors, saying only three Gambians are said to be able to handle major road projects in the construction industry.

“There are shortages of qualified workers in the construction industry as most institutions like the Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI) do not cater for the needs of their institutions and the market demands,” he said.

He said among the few qualified local firm, some of them do not deliver their budgets on time due to lack of capacity. However, he suggested the need to conduct a comprehensive review of the transport laws and regulations to meet the adequacy needs of the demand.

Upon concluding the presentation, law makers who were busy noting down their questions began asking them accordingly.

Member for Wuli West, Sidia Jatta, blamed the ministry for their lack of data for public buildings and maintenance scheme, arguing that properties owned by the public through government are not accounted for and should be accounted for.

Alhagie Drammeh, Member for Jewsang, enquired about government’s vehicles monitoring policy and usage. He also asked who among the public servants is entitled to a vehicle.

In response, Director Drammeh said there’s plan to audit government buildings and facilities which is embedded in a policy called ‘Government’s Buildings and Facilities.’

Drammeh said the old policy that was aimed at monitoring vehicles’ usage has been abolished and a new one is underway to curb the menace of vehicles misused.

Meanwhile, the report is to be considered by the Monitoring Committee on Monday.

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