By: Kebba AF Touray
Members of the National Assembly, on Friday,18th August,2023 each received Prado vehicles worth over two million Dalasi.
The fleet of vehicles was handed to the lawmakers by the Clerk of the Assembly, Momodou Sise at the legislative grounds in Banjul.
The vehicles costing Two Million Five Hundred Thousand Dalasi (D2.5 million) each, of which each lawmaker will pay half, amounting to D1, 282,000 M (One Million Two Hundred and Eighty Two Thousand Dalasi) , among other things aim to facilitate the smooth movement of the lawmakers in the execution of their legislative functions.
The delivery of the said vehicles came in the wake of a revolving loan scheme where each parliamentarian will pay the mentioned half of the vehicle during their five-year tenure as lawmakers.
The implementation of this loan scheme, according to Parliament, serves multiple purposes which include streamlining transportation for representatives, enabling them to effectively discharge their legislative responsibilities, even during unconventional hours, and interacting with constituents across the nation.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony, the Clerk of the National Assembly said the vehicles will also save costs on the government with the ultimate goal of being self-sustenance in years to come.
“The vehicle loan scheme, facilitated by the collaboration between the Ministry of Finance and the National Assembly, is anticipated that the provision of this facility shall encourage members to continue and undertake their duties and responsibilities effectively and efficiently,” he said.
He added that they have also ensured that there is transparency, accountability and values as dictated by the laws of the Gambia throughout the process.
He added: “The vehicles were sourced through an open tender with a very competitive process and all the documents were processed, reviewed and approved by the Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA).”
Fabakary Tombong Jatta, Speaker of the National Assembly, said parliamentarians have been confronted with mobility challenges when going to the assembly, and that with the vehicles that challenge is now history.
He told the lawmakers “These vehicles were not procured for luxury, but rather they were acquired out of necessity. Over the years Honorable Members face significant challenges in commuting to the assembly chamber for sittings, thus resulting in lack of quorum or late start of sittings.”
He further lamented that due to the lack of mobility, the oversight functions of the lawmakers have seriously been hampered, stating that only one service bus was at the disposal of the legislative committees for their oversight crusades.
He added “Majority of the members of the assembly cannot even regularly visit their constituencies to interface with their constituents who elected them. This reality greatly affected lawmakers in the execution of their duties and responsibilities, and it is this challenge that the mobility scheme seeks to address so that National Assembly Members can honor the social contract with the Gambian people as prescribed by law.”
He expressed his awareness of the concerns of the public in relation to the vehicle scheme for lawmakers, but said he is optimistic that with the allocation of the vehicles, the legislators will be more responsive, effective and efficient in the discharge of their legislative functions.
“For lawmakers to operate independently, they require such tools necessary to enable them to execute that role effectively and efficiently, and having such vehicles is necessary to bring NAMs closer to the people in all aspects of their legislative work,” he said.
Finance Minister, Seedy Keita, expressed joy for the government to partner with the legislative arm, to ensure that the legislative arm of the government is fully equipped and geared up for the responsibilities that they are to discharge, saying “We believe these vehicles will go towards fulfilling that objective.”
Seedy SK Njie, Deputy Speaker, thanked all those who in one way or another contributed towards the successful procurement and safe transportation of the vehicles from CFAO to the Gambia, and the Office of the Clerk for ensuring that the vehicle scheme is successfully implemented.