National Assembly Adjournment Debate: Lawmakers Raise Issues Affecting their Communities


By Yankuba Jallow

Members of the National Assembly have on Thursday, 24th September 2020, during the adjournment debate raised several issues affecting their people.

Foroyaa will publish contributions of members to keep our readers informed about what their representatives say or do at the National Assembly.

Member for Brikama South

Sanneh said President Barrow promised the people of Brikama wireless network (wifi), CCTV cameras and streetlights, but nothing has been done after the promise was made to the people.

“We want them to exclude Wifi and CCTV Cameras and bring our streetlights,” he said.

He continued with his debate reminding the Executive of the hospital the President promised the people of Brikama. He said the Executive should ensure that they fulfil their promises before the end of their mandate which according to him is not far.

He said the Government is trying to bring sectionalism in terms of development projects.

“I am not trying to be jealous here but everything is centred in URR [Upper River Region] and there is nothing they are interested in Brikama,” he said.

He said Brikama has seventeen boreholes supplying water to communities in the Greater Banjul Area, but the immediate communities surrounding Brikama still do not have access to clean drinking water.

Member for Bundungka Kunda

The member said President Adama Barrow, in his 2018 ‘meet with the people tour’ promised to address the drainage system problems of the Kanifing Municipality by coming up with a comprehensive plan.

“Until today, KM is still suffering. There is no proper drainage system within the Kanifing Municipal Council,” honourable Bakary Njie said.

Honourable Njie asked the Vice-President to inform him at what stage they are with respect to the promised comprehensive plan so that people will come to know when this suffering will be alleviated.

Regarding health, Njie asked the Minister of Health to inform the House the number of ventilators purchased and the number brought into the country. Njie further asked the Minister of Health to indicate whether the country has experts to operate the ventilators.

He said there is no good road in Bundung.

“All the roads in the Bundung are dilapidated. As am speaking to you now, everybody in Bundung is complaining because it is very hard to move from one part of Bundung to another simply because of the poor conditions of the roads,” honourable Njie said.

He said the roads are bad condition including the one linking the Bundung Maternal and Child Hospital formerly called Jammeh Foundation for Peace Hospital.

Member for Niani

Alhaji Sillah mentioned that there are two communities in his constituency that are yet to receive the Government food aid. He said communities surrounding the distribution point in Wassu do not still have oil. He said the store where the food- aid [rice, oil and sugar] were kept still have oil and it is high time the Government distributes it to the people.

He decried that there are some communities in his constituency that are in great need of water supply and he urged the Government to provide water to the communities including border villages.

Member Kiang Central

Bakary Camara said the Kabada area of his constituency has about nine communities residing off the road, but do not have good roads.

“The road is not good. They find it difficult to transport goods from their nearest community – Kiang Kwinella,” he said.

He advocated for the Government to come up with a regulation on real estate business in the country.

“People are paying their monies to the real estate dealers but they don’t allocate them land. Coming up with a policy is not enough – we need to come up with regulations,” he said.

He said the people in the Gambia are paid small salary and would save for years or pay in instalment to get land, but at the end, the estate dealers fail to allocate land to them.

“There is need for regulation on real estate business in the country,” he said.

The member called on the Government to provide his people with water especially Kwinella which is the biggest settlement in his constituency.

He said the Kiang West Nature Park has the potential to create employment for thousands of young people. He asked the Government to tell him what plans they have for this nature park.

Nominated Member – Ndey Yassin Secka

She said people struggle to pay rent in the country because of what property owners ask for.

“We need to do something about this. Rent is somehow expensive in The Gambia. It’s just crazy and I don’t know how to emphasize it,” she said.

She said market women are suffering.

“Onion is expensive, garlic is expensive – even black pepper is expensive. Palm oil is going up and the same thing with vegetable oil,” he said.

She said something needs to be done about this because things are getting ‘crazy’.

She said when she asked what was available for the people living with disability in the budget the Minister of Finance told her there was an allocation for them.

“Look at things now there is nothing for people with disability. They are struggling to buy rice and put food on the table,” she said.

She said she was told by the Department of Social Welfare that they have ‘plans on the way.’

“I don’t know when the plans will materialize?” she quizzed.

She called on people to cherish peace and respect one another for the country to move forward.

Member for Jarra Central

Kebba Jallow said the people of Kabada have been left out of Government’s development plan for over 50 years of independence. He said Kabada stretches along the whole of six Districts of Lower River Region.

“The past and current Governments have neglected the people of Kabada,” he said.

Member for Latrikunda Sabiji

Saikou Marong said the Government should put into consideration that quality matters when constructing roads.

“Last year, the NRA spent D23 million on the maintenance of roads, why all that?” Honourable Marong asked.

He said the amount of money the Gambia Government pumped into NAWEC since 2017 to date should have stabilized the electricity problem in the country.

“We want to know what is happening with NAWEC with all the money invested in them. It cannot be business as usual – water is a problem – water is a problem. What is the problem we want to know?” Marong inquired.

Honourable Marong said wherever the Ministers and the Speaker of the National Assembly go to in the country, they will be with their security guards but when going outside the country they leave them behind.

“You come with them inside the National Assembly, but you don’t go with them outside the country. Let us motivate this people. The securities are very important and we need to motivate them,” Marong said.

Member for Busumbala

Saikouba Jarju raised the issue of the ECOMIG checkpoint in Bwiam causing trouble to people. He said the soldiers there usually confiscated people’s properties including timbers. He asked the Government to clarify whether this is part of their agenda.

“We have no problem with the existence of ECOMIG in the country but that checkpoint [in Bwiam] is causing problems for the people and also the timber dealers,” he said.

He said there are communities in his constituency in dire need of ambulance as he pleaded to the Government to provide them with ambulances.

He also deliberated on the price of fish saying it is ‘very expensive’.

Member for Banjul North

Ousman Sillah said some settlement in the country’s township still face water shortage. He said places like Latrikunda, Dippa Kunda, Manjai, Kanifing and Kotu stay for days without water supply.

He said the Government needs to come up with regulation on rent to protect people.

“There is need for us to come up with a rent regime so that landlords and land ladies and tenants would have a kind of relationship where either party will not suffer,” he said.

He said the problems of the ferries at the Banjul-Barra crossing point should be addressed.

He asked the Vice-President to provide him answers on the plans of the Government to usher in a Third Republic.

“A framework is really needed and we want to have Government’s commitment to have a new constitution that will address basic concerns needed in a democracy,” he said. 

Member for Serrekunda

He said: “We started an exercise and we will want to complete it. What is anticipated is that there is a promise that the President heading a broad based and inclusive coalition government aimed at conducting constitutional, institutional and administrative reforms that will establish a foundation of a democratic system of administration that will put an end to the culture of impunity and self-perpetuating rule and usher in an era for Gambians to enjoy liberty and prosperity under a system of Government that is sensitive and responsive to the needs and aspirations of the citizenry. That is part of the manifesto that we got from President Barrow. So what I want the Minister of Justice to explain is how do we alter a constitution?”

Member for Basse

Muhammed Magasy said Sabi raised thirteen million dalasis which they used to build their community health centre. He added currently they are in need of of a medical doctor. He said the only doctor who was there went for studies.

“This health centre serves the entire region. We have only one trained medical doctor for the entire URR [Upper River Region]. I think this is serious,” Hon. Magassy said.

He maintained that Alumhare community constructed a health centre, but until today the Ministry of Health haven’t gone there to provide them expert advice and technical support.

He said seventeen communities surrounding Sabi do not have access to electricity

Member for Sami

Alfusainey Ceesay said the police in Karantaba in his constituency are supposed to cover seventeen communities, but they lack mobility to effectively operate.

“They don’t even have a bicycle. The roof of the station leaks. The crime rate there is very high especially the villages along the border,” he said.

Member for Kombo East

Lamin Conta said the Pirang health post is a dilapidated structure. He explained that the health centre lacks electricity, adding the maternity and labour wards are not in good shape. He appealed to Government to construct a new health facility for the people of that area. He said the health centre attracts over four thousand people monthly.

Brikama North

Alhaji S Darboe said most of the places in Brikama are flood-prone areas because of the lack of drainage along the highways.

“The drainage system along the highways needs to be addressed to be able to address the issue of flooding in those areas,” he said.

He added: “Brikama is a growing town and the road network, apart from the main highway, are very poor. Except the main highway, none of the roads are tar-roads.

He said during the raining season people find it difficult to move inside Brikama.

“There are taxi services there but during the raining season, the movement of vehicles is always a problem,” he said.

He said the Songhai Project in Chamen should be replicated in other parts of the country. He also called upon the Government to provide support to national sporting associations especially those that engaged in grass root sporting activities.

Member for Tallinding

Fatoumata Jawara asked the Government to explain their position on the gas explosion in KM and the fire incidents at the Basse and Brikama markets among others.

“We want to know what the outcome of the investigations were because we haven’t been told what the outcome were,” she said.

She said the Tallinding Hospital for thirty years has not been developed by government. She called on Government to support them.

She said in order to have better protection for victims of sexual assault; it would be of great importance for the Gambia to have DNA testing facilities. She said proceedings at the courts are usually delayed because of the lack of DNA testing facilities such that people go to Senegal to do it.

Member for Tumana

Foday Drammeh wanted to register his disappointment over the President’s failure to wear facemask while delivering state of nation address.

He said: “I think what the Vice-President and the minister were saying was baseless. Rule for one is rule for all. Poor Gambian people were prosecuted based on these COVID-19 rules and regulations.

At this juncture, honourable Saikou Marong for Latrikunda constituency rose up pursuant to Standing Order 32 (1) (a) of the National Assembly and asked the member for Tumana to withdraw the word. The Speaker of the National Assembly ruled in favour of honourable Marong and the member for Tumana was asked to withdraw the word ‘baseless’ which was regarded as harsh and unparliamentarily. The member for Tumana withdrew his statement.

The member for Tumana said there are certain communities in his constituency like Dinginring and Sanonding who still have their classes in open places and under trees because of the lack of furniture at the schools.

He said he wants the Government to construct a police station or police post in his constituency as a way to minimise the theft cases that usually happen there.

Member for Jarra East

Sainey Touray said the issue of land problem is a time bomb in the country thus, the need for proper mechanisms to be put in place to manage it.

Member for Foni Bintang

Ebrima Jammeh said the ECOMIG checkpoint in Bwiam is causing hardship for people. He detailed that accidents usually happen around that area. He asked the Government to provide answers as to what the mandate of the ECOMIG is and why they confiscate people’s vehicles. He said if it is an agreement between the Government and them, then, the National Assembly should be informed about the agreement.

He called upon the Government to construct a road linking Foni Beret and Foni Bintang which he considered as important because it links several communities to the main highway and also will ease people’s access to health service.