National Assembly Members Underscore Issues Affecting Their Communities

Hon. Muhammed Ndow

By Yankuba Jallow

The member for Banjul Central, Muhammed Ndow has called upon the Government to provide better town planning for Banjul.

Below is his intervention and that of other members of the National Assembly on the recently concluded adjournment debate held on the 24th September 2020.

Member for Banjul Central

He said the only football field that belongs to the people of Banjul is KG5 mini stadium, but the Gambia Ports Authority wants to take it from them to use it as a container terminal.

“This is the only thing we have; that belong to the community of Banjul. I am appealing to the Government to expand the port inside the sea and not inside Banjul,” he said.

He said Banjul is a very small island and the port cannot take all they have.

“They (Gambia Ports Authority) are entrenching [enchroaching]. They have taken some part of Half-Die Ward and they are coming more into the other wards too. We don’t want that to happen,” he said.

He added: “We don’t want Banjul to become a business center. Even if they are going to take KG5, they have to compensate us with a very standard and modern [football] park that the people of Banjul will be benefiting from.”

He said the city still has some old buildings, adding a building collapsed recently causing injuries.

“The Government and [Banjul City] Council should look into this before very serious catastrophe happen and we start saying ‘Yalla ko dogal’ [meaning God decreed it to happen]. It is not done because we shouldn’t wait for these problems to happen,” he said.

He said: “In Banjul now, they want to change the city to a city store – warehouses everywhere – not even in commercial areas but they are getting inside the residential areas. We have been complaining for a very long time. The people of Banjul have been complaining for a very long time.”

He said most of the times when businessmen and women buy land in Banjul they turn them into warehouses.

“If we ask them they use to tell us Physical Planning [Department] gave them permit to build the stores and the Physical Planning is saying they don’t give them the permit to build. This has to come to an end,” Hon. Ndow said.

He said the city has small streets and the containers that park along the streets – ‘offloading and loading’ – everything is not safe.

“I am appealing to the Government to take a giant step towards this,” he said.

He opined that driving license should last for five years instead of one year.

Member for Illiassa

He requested the Government to provide his people health facilities because there are several communities in his constituency that don’t have access to primary health service. He also pleaded with the Government to provide his people with electricity and construct good roads in his area.

Member for Central Badibou

Sulayman Saho said his constituency has cattle but their major problem is having a grazing land and drinking pool.

“It is common that farmers that grow crops and farmers that rear animals [livestock] have problems. It is high time the Government intervene and make sure that animals have grazing land and drinking pools,” he said.

He said the Government ‘must have an exit plan for ECOMIG because they must leave sooner or later.’

“Their stay here is time bound. If they leave what will be the fate of our security forces? It is high time our security become in charge,” honourable Saho said.

Member for Wuli East Suwaibou Touray

“We want to register our displeasure in the way and manner law is being enforced in the URR [Upper River Region]. Honourable members for Tumana Sandu and Wuli East are not happy. Our properties are being stolen by organised crime and the institution that should protect people is not protecting them. People organise themselves to help that institution, but the institution is not ready to cooperate with the people to stop the practice,” he said.

He explained that people arrest thieves and hand them over to the police and all the police will do is to release them. He said at times, the police arrest people who arrest thieves and end up prosecuting them.

Honourable Touray said he proposed to the Ministry of Interior to come up with a programme to enlighten people and the security to better work together to end stealing in the area, but until today nothing has been done to this regard.

“Stealing is rampant and is becoming a very serious crisis because fighting has started to the extent that people wanted to attack police stations,” he said.

He called upon the Ministry of Interior to come up with a swift response to this problem.

He said the structure for the fire and ambulance service project at Bajakunda is still not completed and it is about three years now since the commencement of the project. He added that the project costs D18 million, but it is still not completed.

“Nothing is working for that project and that project is supposed to serve Sandu, Wuli East and Wuli West. We are really calling on the Ministry of Interior to take proactive measures to ensure that the project is completed so that work can commence,” he said.

He said there are a lot of fire outbreaks in the provinces and they require this service.

Member for Upper Saloum Alhagi Mbowe

He said his people need a mini-stadium and he called upon the Government to build one for them.

He asked the Minister of Defence to inform him whether there is a possibility to have a mini-army barracks in Upper Saloum because his area is bordered with Senegal. He said there are several incidents of armed robbery in the area.

He said none of the communities in his constituency has benefitted from electricity from the Government as he urged the Government to provide them with electricity supply.

Member for Wuli West Sidia Jatta

He said his constituency has the greatest number of cattle in the Gambia.

“We must invest in those sectors capable of generating revenue for this country. Cattle generate revenue, why not invest into them? Provide proper water system for them. Provide proper grazing for them,” he said.

He said people are encouraged to go into agriculture but they know whatever they produce becomes a liability on them.

“So why can’t we change that? We know our diamonds are our groundnuts. If we invest in this sector, we will transform this country to become heaven on earth,” he said.

He maintained that there cannot be development without sacrifice. He said there are numerous sectors that if the government invest in them, they have the capability of transforming the country.

“Fishing alone can transform this country but we are neglecting it. We leave it to people. We leave people to come and tap our resources. This is what must stop – we should stop being beggars. We should not beg. We have everything in this country,” he said.

He said the whole of North Bank does not have a doctor and a midwife. He added that the whole of URR has only one doctor adding there is no blood bank in the whole of North Bank.

He said hospital ambulances lack fuel and yet the public officials are provided with fuel coupons costing thousands of dalasis.

“We need something better than we have,” he said.