Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Home Blog Page 3

Support in the Fight against Corona Virus Continues As Jaka Dukureh Donates Bags of Rice to Vulnerable Communities

0

By Makutu Manneh

Jaha Dukureh, a Gambian Civil Society activist has donated over 2,000 bags of rice and money to vulnerable communities in the country.

This gesture of Ms. Dukure is to support families during this global corona virus pandemic and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Ms. Dukure started the donation at her village of Gambisara and extended the gesture to communities in Kiang West, Jarra, Badibu and the URR. Some households within the Kanfing Municipality also received support from Ms. Dukure.

Ms. Dukure who partners with the National Youth Council, National Disaster Management Agency, Gambia Red Cross Society and Safe hands for Girls to distribute the rice, said she took money from ‘‘my own account to do this for my country.’’ that since she has been blessed by Allah, she wants to give back to her country especially during this time of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, when people are financially affected; that it is also another way to honour her mother who passed away when she was fourteen years old.

Mam Lisa Camara, the National Coordinator for ‘Safe Hands for Girls’ expressed the honour of being associated with Jaha, in distributing the rice.

Camara said it was very noble for her to take her personal money and give back to her country; that the donation will bring the much needed assistance particularly for women led households who are struggling to meet the needs of their families in these difficult times.

On behalf of his community, the Alkalo of one of the beneficiary villages applauded with delight, the gesture of Ms. Dukure, in receiving support from Jaha and her team during such difficult moments.

“We do not know her. Therefore, all we can do is to pray for her and thank her for the solidarity,” he said.

National Assembly Session Ends In Disarray

0

The National Assembly met on Friday and Saturday 15th and 16th May, respectively, in what would have been considered a historic Marathon session on the State of Public Emergency .

The Attorney General responded positively on the issue of opening of (Lumos) weekly markets after consultation with councils to address the concerns of members.

He did indicate willingness to look at the content of all the regulations such as the closure of mosques and Educational centres in order to consider reasonable restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID 19.

The Minister of Health made a passionate appeal for members to take note that June is expected to be the peak period for the spread of the Virus and all measures must be taken to roll back the expectations.

He expressed that the various equipment are available and staff training has taken place. Inter sectoral collaboration is said to be in high gear. He appealed for an extension of 45 days.

The Minister buttressed the motion after members made their observations.

The motion required the votes on not less than three- quarters of all the members of the National Assembly. The majority rejected the motion to extend the state of Public Emergency for another 45days.

After the rejection, some National Assembly members attempted to introduce another motion but standing order 29 paragraph 3 states that “It shall be out of order to attempt to reconsider any specific question upon which the Assembly has taken a decision during the current Session except upon a motion to rescind the decision of which notice must be given.”

Hence , any new proposal was not admissible during the Session unless a motion is made to rescind the decision to reject the motion.

Monday is D Day. Will the National Assembly rescind its Saturday decision knowing that it could revoke the regulations any time by the vote of the majority? Will the state of emergency come to an end? Will there be another computation of the time when it is to come to an end? Has the National Assembly surrendered its leadership role in fighting COVID 19? Is the institution being consumed by its new discovery of its powers? Has it failed to take note of the old maxim that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Foroyaa will follow how the Assembly will restore its unity of purpose which was earning it the admiration of the citizenry.

What Is The Role Of Social Welfare Department In Protecting The Vulnerable Groups?

0

QUESTION OF TE DAY

Foroyaa will approach the Ministry to find out how Social Welfare Department is positioned to assist the vulnerable groups during COVID-19.

This institution is established to address the concerns of the most vulnerable sectors of society. Hence it should have been the key institution responsible for the distribution of food assistance to the needy.

Gambia is a nation that has no welfare system to provide assistance to the needy without any stable source of income. Family support serves as the key source of support. Poverty is weakening the support base of families and government needs to strengthen the Department to enable it to provide relief to the vulnerable. A new policy is needed.

Lawyer Ousainou Darboe Says Draft Constitution is More Progressive than the 1997 Constitution

By: Yankuba Jallow

Gambian Lawyer Ousainou Darboe said on Saturday the draft constitution is more progressive than the Constitution of the Second Republic.

He added that it has introduced new things which were not part of the 1997 Constitution.

He said the draft constitution is a product of the wide range engagement between the CRC and the Gambian community both at home and abroad.

The senior lawyer said the chapter on leadership and integrity is a reflection of best practices in other countries. He said the human rights provisions have been expanded. He added that the draft constitution gives the people the right to question a declaration of state of emergency by the President.

The veteran lawyer made this statement at a forum organised by the proprietor of Paradise FM, Haruna Drammeh. The programme held at the American International University in Kanifing on Saturday night saw the following panellists Lawyer Fatou Jawo, nominated member Ya Kumba Jaiteh, Dr. Ismaila Ceesay and Professor Abdoulie Saine expressing their views on the draft constitution.

Lawyer Dr Lamin J. Darboe said there are many contradictions in the final draft constitution.

“There are serious contradictions there – between similar provisions talking about identical issues,” he said.

Darboe said it is too bulky and packed with none constitutional provisions with several contradictions.

Darboe said constitutions are supposed to perform particular functions.

“If you look at this (draft) constitution, the way power is shared between the different branches of government does not particularly appeal to me,” he said.

The legal practitioner said he does not understand why the National Assembly should be headed by a non-elected member.

“I don’t understand why the National Assembly should be headed by a non-elected member. I thought we put that kind of situation behind us but unfortunately the Speaker of the National Assembly, if this draft is accepted, will be a non-elected member,” Darboe said.

He said he does not understand the logic of taking the Speaker from outside the National Assembly.

“That to me is retrogressive. It is not progressive. The National Assembly must be able to control its own proceedings in their entirety,” Darboe remarked.

He added: “The Constitutional Review Commission cannot impose a Speaker on the National Assembly.”

Barrister Darboe said the judiciary and the legislature have a role in the process of impeaching (removing) the President but in terms of removing a judge, the President only approves for the start of the process and when it is completed, he (the President) writes to the judge informing the person of his or her removal.

“The judiciary cannot punish itself and that is what happens in the case of removing judges. That is not fair,” he said.

Darboe argued that the pension benefits for the judiciary are far better than that of the National Assembly.

“In fact the National Assembly retirement benefits is not mentioned,” he said, adding “if the President and the superior court judges have their rights spelt out in the constitution, why will the National Assembly, a core-equal branch of government, be subjected to inferior legislation as far as retirement benefits are concerned,” he said.

The constitutional lawyer disagreed with the provision that the offices of the majority and minority leaders be made constitutional offices.

“These are internal control mechanisms. There is no reason to elevate them to a constitutional office,” Darboe said.

Darboe said there are several conflicts in the final draft constitution.

“I don’t think this constitution should be supported. I don’t think it necessarily reflects the views of Gambians,” Darboe said.

He criticised the CRC for copying and pasting the 2010 Kenyan Constitution. Darboe said there are controversies in the draft constitution. He opined that laws cannot be made retrogressively, therefore the counting of the tenure of the President cannot commence in 2017.

“I believe in the interest of the rule of law, the counting should begin in 2021. The term, if you follow the law, has to commence in 2021,” Darboe said.

The lawyer said the presence or absence of the word (with or without the word secular) does not make any difference. He said the rights of all faiths have been guaranteed.

On the participation of the Gambians in Diaspora, Darboe said once you are a Gambian whether at home or in the Diaspora you should have the right to vote and contest in elections.

Lawyer Fatou Jawo, deputy president of National Youth Parliament. Said the constitution is a progressive one compared to the 1997 Constitution. It was consultative and people’s views and aspirations have been included, she added.

She said the introduction of two-term limit, women representation in the National Assembly, rights of the youth, an independent institution like the anti-corruption commission made the draft constitution a progressive one.

“I think the CRC did a wonderful job. The (draft) constitution is the reflection of the will of majority The Gambians because the consultation was very much intense and rigorous to the extent that even the Diasporans were reached out to,” she said.

On the term of the incumbent, Jawo said the counting of President Barrow’s tenure should begin in January 2017, adding he should honour the wishes and aspirations of the people.

She opined that the absence of the word ‘secular’ does not make a difference, adding no person or authority has the power to declare the country a religious state.

Counsel Jawo opined that the Speaker should be elected from the elected members of the house and not outside.

She said youth representation is not adequately provided.

“Leaving out the young people is discriminatory,” she said.

Professor Abdoulie Saine said the draft constitution is a good one. He said the draft failed to include the term secular.

“I believe it should have included the term secular, but they took the easy way,” he said.

He said secularism protects all faiths and minorities. He added that the CRC succumbed to the general argument of the majority.

Professor Saine said the counting of President Barrow’s term should begin in 2017.

Professor Saine opined that the Speaker and the two deputy speakers should be elected from the members of the National Assembly and not outside.

Nominated member of the National Assembly, Ya Kumba Jaiteh said the draft is a progressive one adding the drafters have ousted the President’s power to nominate members of the National Assembly.

Dr. Ismaila Ceesay said the draft is a progressive document, adding it passed three stages test of legitimacy, participatory and inclusivity. He added that the provisions of the draft are better than the 1997 constitution.

Ya Kumba said the draft has provided enough protection for people of all faiths therefore it is needless to add the word secular.

Dr. Ceesay said, President Barrow should exercise leadership and accept this term to be counted as his first term.

Dr. Ceesay said there are provisions that are discriminatory to the Diaspora in terms of participation in elections.

He said the Speaker should be elected from the members of the National Assembly.

Ryan Giggs’ Club Extend Gambian Left-back Touray’s Contract

By Sulayman Bah

Former Manchester United greats, Ryan Giggs and his likes have renewed the contract of Gambia’s Ibou Touray.

Touray joined the side from Nantwich Town in 2017, helping them gain promotion to the English fourth tier, three divisions below the Premier League.

A former Everton FC graduate, Ibou’s deal would have elapsed this June.

Due to the current global crisis triggered by the pandemic, club owners are trimming down players and operating a slimmer budget.

In a clear out seeing eleven out of 22 players released, the 26-year-old scorpion is one of those to have had his deal extended at least until end of the 2020-2021 football season.

Born in the UK to a Gambian parent, the defender switched his allegiance to play for Gambia in 2016 under Sang Ndong’s stewardship.

Police Grant Two Suspects Bail Over Brikama Fire Incident

0

By Mustapha Jallow

Two persons who were arrested for their alleged involvement in the Brikama fire incident have been granted bail, Police spokesperson said.

He added: “Their arrest is in connection to the start of the fire and failure to control it.”

When asked whether the two are nurses of Brikama health centre, he responded: “I’m just not sure if they are really. They are residents of the hospital quarters but I can’t tell their designation within the health department.”

According to the Police spokesman, preliminary investigations have revealed that a pile of rubbish was being burnt from the quarters of the hospital around the canteens, which fire spread to cause the disaster at the market.

“The two individuals have been arrested and currently helping the police in their investigations,” he said.

GCCI Trade Fair Center Estimated at D9 Million

0

By: Kebba AF Touray

Minyang Jobe, Board Member and Project Coordinator for the GCCI’s (Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry) International Trade Fair Center, told journalists that the total cost of the Center is estimated to cost over nine million Dalasi.

Jobe disclosed this recently during an interview with journalists at the construction site of the said Center situated in Bijilo.

‘‘I cannot give you the exact amount because construction is still in progress. But we had an estimate from our contractor that the project will cost over D9 million dalasi. Today we have so far spent up to 6.7 million dalasi. With good fiscal discipline, we have managed to make some savings. The International Trade Fair Center has an estimated size of 200 square meters. This is much bigger than the size of the stadium where previous trade fairs were held.’’ Jobe said; that they are not only hoping to host trade fairs at the center, but it will be used as revenue generating center through fund raising programs such as gala dinners; that they are hopeful to recover the money spent in the construction of the site.

Speaking about the capacity of the center, Jobe said it will accommodate four hundred and fifty tents and will still be able to house an excess of four hundred others. Jobe said he cannot exactly say the time they will spend to recover the construction costs, but that their accountants have done the costing which he said will help them establish the recovery process within the period and as well strengthen proper fiscal spending.

On his part, GCCI President Edrissa Mass Jobe said with the change in their initial trade fair schedules, there will be minor changes adding that with the new ground, there will be several trade fairs with longer periods; that the ground belongs to them and it requires no payment.

“Sometime we should have the flexibility to give back to the sectors of businesses that do not have the capital especially the vulnerable groups such as young people and women.

This center belongs to us and the beauty of it is that it increases our flexibility and effectiveness in delivering trade fairs,” the GCCI president concludes.

 

Two Patients Recover from COVID-19

0

By Nelson Manneh

Modou Njie, the Director of Health Promotion and Education at the Ministry of Health said Gambia registered two new recoveries of patients from COVID-19.

“The country has registered two new recoveries of patients from COVID-19 with new results of two consecutive negative tests which is an indication of recovery,” he said. Njie said the country has no new laboratory confirmed case as of Friday 15th May 2020; that the total number of COVID-19 cases confirmed in the Gambia as at Friday 15th May 2020, was twenty-three, with twelve people recovering from the disease; one dead and ten active cases.

“Out of the ninety-six laboratory test results received, eighty-six are results of samples taken from new people and ten are repeat test results,” he said; that the results of all the eighty-six people tested for the first time, returned negative for COVID-19; that one of the hitherto probable cases also produced a negative test result but has to complete the mandatory quarantine period.

“Five persons have been newly taken into quarantine on account of their recent travels from locations with community transmission and no new person has been discharged from quarantine,” he said. The Director of Health Promotion said the new persons taken into quarantine are one Gambian, one Nigerian, one Guinean and two Senegalese.

“Twenty-four contacts were traced, three of whom are high-risk contacts and the other twenty-one are low-risk,” he said; that the Gambia currently has ninety-four persons under quarantine with ten active cases and one probable case.

The Director of Health Promotion said globally, a total of four million, five hundred and twenty thousand, four hundred and forty cases of COVID-19 have been reported since 31st December 2019; that of these, three hundred and three thousand and forty-three deaths were registered and one million, seven hundred thousand, two hundred and six recovered from the diseases.

“Senegal recorded two thousand, one hundred and eighty-nine confirmed cases, and eight hundred and forty-two recoveries and twenty-three deaths,” Njie said; that currently, the Gambia has ninety-four people under quarantine, and a total of one thousand, four hundred and forty tests were conducted and twenty-three came out positive; that three hundred and seventy-five people completed quarantine, with seven hundred and eighty-nine contacts traced and three hundred and ten people completed follow-ups.

Assan Ceesay, Jatta Resume League Action after Corona Break

By Sulayman Bah

Resumption of the German leagues over the weekend meant Assan Ceesay and Bakery Jatta returning to action as well with their respective clubs.

The Gambian pair featured from start in yesterday outings as Ceesay and Osnabruck drew table-topping Arminia Belefield 1-1 while Jatta was also a mainstay for second-placed Hamburg as they tied Greuther 2-2.

Sunday’s outing was Jatta’s 22nd start this season for his outfit scoring four times and getting cautioned on four occasions.

Assan on the other hand, was making his return to action after serving suspension for a rash challenge that earned him the German FA disciplinary committee’s wrath.

The 26-year-old former Gamtel FC attacker is on loan in the German second division from Switzerland Super League side FC Zurich whom he has a deal with lasting until June 2022.

Club Sports Director Bids Farewell to Exit-bound Hamza Barry

By Sulayman Bah

Croatian club Hajduk Split’s director Ivan Kepčija has bid farewell to Hamza Barry who leaves the side at end of the season.

Speculation has been bandied about the Gambian departing having failed to reach an agreement with his current employers over a revised contract.

‘We will, by all accounts, say goodbye to Hamza at the end of the season,’ Ivan Kepčija said over the weekend.

Talks over renewed terms have been staged without much coming of it amid reports Barry is headed for Hungary’s league where he’s believed to have reached a deal in principle with one of the moneybags there.

Last week, Croatian publication Slobodna chronicling the 25-year-old’s situation, gave a 99 percent rating to chances of the scorpion leaving on the basis he has not inked the dotted lines for a contract renewal.

And owing to the covid-19 rocking the globe’s economy, fifa has advised players whose deals are due be offered extended contracts until end of the football term.

And on those grounds Hamza will see out remainder of the season before leaving July this year instead of June when the Croatian Premier League would have drawn to a close.

Hajduk stand to lose considering they forked out first over 27,000,000 million Gambian dalasis to acquire the attacking player on loan in a deal rising to over 43 million dalasis from Cypriot side Limassol after signing him on a permanent basis.

Halifa Sallah Calls for Introduction of Sustainable Measures in the Fight against COVID 19

By Yankuba Jallow

Halifa Sallah, the National Assembly member for Serrekunda on Saturday said the Gambia Government should begin working towards having a sustainable system.

“Monies are being spent and they need to ensure sustainability. Funds will not continue to come. We are expecting a lot from outside and we are not collecting much revenue. Re-export is down. Where are the funds going to come from? We really need to look at this system and ensure that we have a sustainable system,” he said.

He said the issue of COVID-19 is about the health sector building up, adding it’s a whole architecture.

“I have heard it but the actual process of screening, the actual process of observatories being established and the actual process of treatment. This should be integrated,” he said.

He added: “The next time we want an integrated presentation of what is done, how much have been spent? How many people are catered for? It is absolutely essential that we have this in our face in order to know what we have achieved,” he said.

He said the people don’t know what has been achieved in the 45 days in the fight against COVID-19.

“Next time they should come and tell us, concretely, how they have spent, how much are they getting and what challenges they are facing,” he said.

He added: “Honourable Speaker, The issue of one hundred thousand people being laid down out of work what do we do with them? That needs to come in. Thirty-two million dalasi being paid to hotels is that really sustainable in terms of the observatories and the quarantines?” he quizzed.

Health Minister expresses frustration over the country’s bad system

By Yankuba Jallow

The Minister of Health on Saturday told members of the National Assembly that the Gambia has a very bad system which requires changes.

Dr. Ahmed Lamin Samateh was speaking before lawmakers on Saturday afternoon on the situation of COVID-19 in the country and why the payment of allowances to the frontline workers was not made on time.

He said instead of dealing with the response to COVID-19, strategizing, developing the policies, people were focussed on how to amass money through the promised allowances.

He said there were people who were bent on mismanaging the fund meant to fight COVID-19 as they did with the Ebola fund.

“I think we inherited a bad system. That is the bottom line. The same old people are there. They got used to the same bad system. We talk about Ebola, unfortunately, Ebola funds were wasted in this country and that is what they want to do with this and we say no.”

“That is why some of them are up and against. The Ebola funds were wasted here. What that would have done, today, our health system wouldn’t have been like this. There were equipment which were said to have been procured which never got to this country. Nobody sees them. Allowances were put together – then allowances were paid as impress and I was told they put it in bags and they went and paid selected people and the rest only God and they know where the rest went to. Some people were left as a response team for three months and they never get a dime paid to them. They are still here.”

He said the same people are there and now they don’t have the access, they are sabotaging the system.

“To them, things won’t work. To them, things will fail. This is the frustration I am facing as a health minister.”

He said these are the same people who will go to the media to fabricate lies against the Government.

“We have a bad system where middle-level people who have been spending money in the air building homes – three, four, five-storey buildings in town. They are in the ministry,”

“We have people who go to border points because they have people they stationed there, to be collecting little things from them every weekend.”

He said when these people were removed, they became very angry and they take him as someone who came to destroy their way of life.

“They are up with arms, doing every kind of havoc and undermining us because they have grievances,” he said.

He told lawmakers one of the former cabinet ministers (whose name was not mentioned) called one of their programme managers to give him fuel coupons.

He said when he asked them to provide him with the list of those who are supposed to be given the allowances, “the problem started, especially, when the five hundred million dalasis was mentioned. That was when our problem as a health ministry started.”

He added: “Unfortunately, people started forgetting about COVID 19, all they talk about is money, money, money. That is why I said our work is very difficult.”

He said there is a great number of health workers who are sacrificing their lives for the country, but there are a few bad elements too.

“If you look at the list and the estimate, it consumed almost the entire five hundred million dalasis for allowances,” Dr. Samateh said.

The medical doctor said when his ministry rejected that, they went back and brought another list which was big.

“When we look at the list, they mentioned over three hundred volunteers and nobody knows where all those volunteers come from,” he said.

Minister Samateh said the names of the volunteers were removed and they were asked to bring the list of the core (frontline) people. He said his ministry was able to trace repeated names at different places in the same list.

He told the lawmakers that that list was also rejected adding he went to Kotu at the Central Medical Store where he spent a whole day until 2 am with his people to come up with a list.

“Our intention was to give them something because it was difficult for them. They sometimes go home late, but we needed a list,” he said.

Samateh explained that if he had not done that, there would have been a disaster.

“As we looked at the list, we saw that there were various duplications and that night alone we removed over 300 names,” he said.

He said they were able to remove these names with the help of the team leaders who were called to identify those under them. He said after that process, their names were arranged alphabetically and this was how they were able to trace all the duplicated names.

Dr. Samateh said these were the categories of frontline workers who were to be given allowances.

He said the frontline workers are those who were in the contact tracing team, surveillance team, laboratory units, case management units, workers at accident and emergency wards and the people at the outpatient wards.

“Some people were putting their friends, relatives to be in that frontline (list),” he said.

He said the idea of the list is to pay the frontline workers first and then pay others, maybe less. He said when people knew that those at the emergency unit were going to be given allowance, they began writing their names under them.

“This is the nightmare we are facing,” Samateh said.

Police Grant Two Suspects Bail Over Brikama Fire Incident

0

By Mustapha Jallow

Two persons who were arrested for their alleged involvement in the Brikama fire incident have been granted bail, Police spokesperson said.

He added: “Their arrest is in connection to the start of the fire and failure to control it.”

When asked whether the two are nurses of Brikama health centre, he responded: “I’m just not sure if they are really. They are residents of the hospital quarters but I can’t tell their designation within the health department.”

According to the Police spokesman, preliminary investigations have revealed that a pile of rubbish was being burnt from the quarters of the hospital around the canteens, which fire spread to cause the disaster at the market.

“The two individuals have been arrested and currently helping the police in their investigations,” he said.

World Bank Approves $30 Million policy Grant

0

MUHAMMED S. BAH

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved on May 14, 2020, $30 million (about 1500 million dalasis) development policy grant to support The Gambia’s efforts to improve debt and public investment management.

According to an official statement from the World Bank, it is also meant to improve financial viability and service delivery in the energy and telecom sectors and enhance the transparency and governance framework of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

”This first in a series of two programmatic Development Policy Operations support to The Gambia’s efforts to undertake fundamental reforms to improve fiscal management for better public service delivery,” said Elene Imnadze, World Bank Resident Representative.

This Development Policy Operation will ensure public investment projects are appraised as per National Development Plan priorities and support the adoption of a new procurement bill to eliminate the use of single-source procurement and tighten the emergency clause for its use.

The financing will also help enhance the financial and operational performance of the energy utility in order to provide cheaper, more reliable, and cleaner energy. Also, it will support the ring-fencing of the telecom infrastructure and restructuring of the SOEs in that sector to strengthen the digital economy.

“This operation will support the government in strengthening fiscal transparency and reducing fiscal risks and promote a governance framework to ensure the long-term sustainability of the SOE sector,” said Mehwish Ashraf, World Bank Country Economist, and co-Task Team Leader.

This first operation is aligned with the development priorities of the Government as reflected in the National Development Plan for 2018-2021 which identifies economic stabilization, growth stimulation, and structural transformation as key priorities for The Gambia.

Health Minister says The African continent is expecting three hundred thousand COVID-19 Cases

By: Kebba AF Touray

Dr. Amadou Lamin Samateh, Gambia’s Health Minister, told Gambian Lawmakers on Saturday that it is projected that without social distancing, the African Continent is expected to have three hundred thousand COVID-19 cases within a year.

The projections by the Policy Analysis Unit of the President’s Office, also indicates that 74-93 percent of the population might be affected.

Samateh also told the legislators that when the pandemic peaks, the continent is expected to have 3000 cases per day and 10,000 active cases in the Gambia.

He said with strict social distancing and assumption, there will be reduction in contact by 50 percent, they would expect a total of 1600 cases from 300,000 in a year and a total of 30 active cases per day at peak and the country would expect 6 to 7 new cases to be registered per day.

He said globally, a total of 24, 338, 658 COVID-19 cases have been reported out of which 297, 119 have been death registered and Africa has registered 54,190 confirmed cases with 1,623 deaths registered, while Senegal our closest neighbor registered a total of 2,189 with a total fatality of 23.

Samateh explicated: “The Gambia as of 15th May 2020 has registered 23 cases with one death. We have been carrying out a lot of contact tracing in this country, as it is the corner-stone of response in the prevention and containment stages”.

He said “As at now the Gambia has conducted 1440 tests and have confirmed 23 positive test results. This means that as at now, we are doing about 700 tests per million people. The case definition has been modified and includes all symptoms of fever, cough, while travel history and history of contact are no longer necessary in case definition of suspected cases”

He said: “There are 13 Isolation centers and at present 20 ventilators ready for use when needed. The equipment that is supposed to be procured includes ventilators, X-ray machines, ultra sound machines, patient monitors, and 33 ambulances, to make our health facilities more robust to deal with COVID-19 and thereafter. The procurement process by both the World Bank and the Gambia Government will soon be completed and the equipment will soon be in the country”.

He disclosed: “At the beginning of the pandemic in the Gambia, the projections on the disease were that we will have a total of 181 thousand infections at the peak and 3300 per day. But with social distancing we were expecting 53000 infections at the peak and 1000 infections per day”.

He averred that the initial contact tracing was geared towards following people from hotspot countries before the commencement of quarantine and the people concerned were asked to stay isolated at home and were routinely followed by the health personnel for the development of COVID-19 Symptoms.

He said those who developed symptoms were tested and of those people 350 were followed within 14 days and the contact tracing is concentrated on following contacts of the confirmed cases and the contacts of the contacts, and once the contacts of the high risk is confirmed, they are quarantined and low risk cases are followed at home.

He said: “The target for contact tracing is 719 and 789 have so far been traced successfully. Of the low risk, a total of 105 were being followed and we went beyond to follow 109 cases. Quarantine started in early March 2020,”

He averred: “initially quarantine started with people coming into the country from hotspot zones, with challenges as many people were not cooperating, despite Quarantine is one of our interventions that has yielded dividend in the Gambia, as most of our positive cases were all confirmed whilst undergoing quarantine”.

He said currently, the Gambia has 94 people in quarantine and 375 completed quarantine, while expressing joy with the visit of the Health and Special Committees of the Legislature to the quarantine sites.

He noted at present, they have spent D20 million on Quarantine Facilities and underscored that their containment efforts are going well, as they almost know the epidemiological link of almost all the cases and all known contacts have been traced and tested.

He said testing is the corner stone of the COVID-19 response and the recommended level of testing level is now at least 2 percent of the population and those countries that have done testing have tested 40-60,000 per million people.

Gambian Lawmakers Reject Motion on Extension of State of Public Emergency to 45 Days

By: Kebba AF Touray

Gambian Lawmakers on Saturday 16th May 2020 rejected a motion for the extension of the State of Public Emergency to 45 days.

Gambia’s Justice Minister, Abubacarr Tambedou, while tabling the motion, reminded lawmakers that the motion for the first State of Public Emergency was passed on the 3rd April 2020, in response to the global threat (Coronavirus pandemic) to which the Gambia is vulnerable, as declared by the World Health Organization,.

He said: “On the 12th of May 2020, the rate of infection of the Coronavirus globally stood at four million people out of which 300,000 died. In Senegal within the same period, the rate of infection stood at over 1800 people with 19 deaths from the infection.”

“In the Gambia, our rate of infection has also increased to 23 and unfortunately, one died from the virus in the country. But we must not be complacent about this fact as COVID-19 continues to pose a clear and present danger to the Gambia and remains deadly”, he added.

He stressed that the government needs to continue taking measures that will among other things break the chain of transmission, to prevent further spread of the virus and concurrently alleviate the consequences that the country may face.

He said the first 45 days extension expires on 18th May 2020, but the threat of COVID-19 continues to loom and that determination is needed now more than ever to break the chain of transmission of the virus.

He explained: “The forty five days resolution that was passed by the Legislature on 3rd April 2020, which extended the period of State of Public Emergency on 26th March 2020, will allow the government to continue to carry out its responsibilities towards the people of this country not only to save lives, but to balance the competing political, social and economic interests. We are confronted with these difficult times”.

Pursuant to section 5 of the Emergency Powers Act 1997, Justice Minister Tambadou further moved the Assembly to affirm restrictions on Open Markets and Shopping Areas Emergency Powers Regulations 2020( as amended), Essential Commodities Emergency Powers Regulations 2020(as amended), Restrictions on Public Transportation Emergency Powers Regulations 2020( as amended); Closure and Restrictions on Non-Essential Public Places Emergency Powers Regulations 2020, and Closure of Educational Institutions and Places of Worship Emergency Powers Regulations 2020.

The motion suffered a blow after the debate because the lawmakers did not agree on its approval, compelling the Speaker to put the motion to a vote. Out of 48 Members who voted, 23 voted for the adoption of the motion while 25 voted against it.

As it stands no specific extension period has been agreed upon by the lawmakers, even though the Special Committee renewed its recommendation for the state of public emergency to be extended to 21 days, to contain the further spread of COVID-19 in the Gambia, shortly after the vote on the motion for extra 45 days extension.

Sitting continues on Monday 18th May 2020 at the Legislative House in Banjul at 10:00 am prompt. Follow Foroyaa Newspaper for interventions of the deputies on the motion.

Gambia Health Experts Say over One Hundred Thousand people could be Infected if….

By: Kebba AF Touray

Hon. Alhagie Mbow, National Assembly Member for Upper Saloum and Chairperson of the Special Committee on the Implementation of State of Public Emergency, said that experts at the country’s Health Ministry told them that one hundred and eighty-one thousand people could be infected with COVID-19, if the country fails to adhere strictly to the rules of social distancing.

Mbow said this on Friday while laying the committee’s report on its recent visit to 38 places, including ferry terminals, fish landing sites, markets, border posts and market.

He said the committee report is premised on the objective of holding the executive to account, as it delivers on its commitment to the people during the forty-five day period of the State of Public Emergency, approved by the Lawmakers on the 2nd April 2020.

He said the report seeks to inform lawmakers on the implementation of regulations and their effects on the lives and livelihoods of the people and institutions in the country, as well as to appraise the Legislature on the extent to which the committee has delivered on its mandate.

The committees observed among other things that social distancing was not observed in some public places, hand washing facilities were placed at places visited; vendors along the road side caused congestion, checking of visitor’s temperature were not done.

He said the committee recommended that a regulation criminalizing transport the conduct of drivers or compound owners, who assist any unauthorized traveller to enter the county or harbors any visitor from abroad, as well as a regulation that makes it an offence for anybody who enters the country and refuses to be quarantined or refused to report to health authorities.

On security, he added that the committee recommends for the full enforcement of border closure with the deployment of armed and security forces, Health and Interior Ministries to collaborate and ensure that quarantine and isolation centers are off-bound to visitors, provision of adequate equipment to the Interior Ministry with more vehicles and communication to enforce regulation and to deploy navy to the sea and curb illegal entry into the country.

The committee also recommends that the Finance Ministry to revise the 2020 budget to give more support to the Health Ministry to fight against Coronavirus, review the Public Finance Act 2014 and make correction on laws that contravene the constitution and engage state owned enterprises, to ensure continuity in provision of essential services.

He said: “The committee resolved that the state of public emergency be extended to 21 days, subject to strict adherence to the implementation of all state of public emergency regulations, that the Assembly to recognize the relentless services of the health workers in the country, support of the MRC as well as the support of the World Health Organization”.

Lawmakers during their interventions hailed the committee for the good work and called for the enforcement and implementation of the precautionary measures. They also tasked the authorities to ensure that the border closure is enforced and fully implemented, noting that despite the closure, people are still entering the country. They also reiterated the need for effective mass sensitization, to widen the understanding of the communities to contain the disease and address the denial syndrome.

The lawmakers are currently debating on the report and once adopted will usher the Gambia in another state of public emergency.

World’s largest cosmetic company officially appoints Gambia’s Jaha Dukureh as Ambassador

0

By Makutu Manneh

L’Oreal Paris the world’s largest cosmetic company on 13th of May 2020 officially appointed Gambia’s Jaha Dukureh as their ambassador.

Jaha became the newest International spokesperson for the brand.

She described her new achievement as an amazing opportunity as a young African woman, saying most of them don’t make it this far. Historically, people who have been called L’Oreal Ambassadors are the likes of Beyonce (very famous celebrities).

“For me to be a Gambian, to be from Gambisara and from the background I came from, I think it is something that I never dreamt of and never thought would be possible for me, so is an amazing feeling,” she said.

Jaha’s L’Oreal’s endorsement deal motivated her to plan an emergency basic income program for women in the Gambia. She is currently designing the program which she intends to start in Upper River Region (URR).

In this program, she wants every adult woman to receive D2500 every month.

Jaha said she and her team are doing embarking on initiatives to bring down poverty levels in their communities and help empower women since they are the most vulnerable.

The 30 year old Gambian biggest motivation is her mother. Her mum passed away when she was fourteen. The young humanitarian has seen how her mother suffered and struggled in order to sustain their family.

The UN Women Regional Ambassador for Africa explained how she felt when she used to wake up at 5am every morning in the Gambia and saw women carry buckets of water on their heads.

Jaha Dukureh said the struggle is not only about telling people Female Genital Mutilation or Child Marriage is wrong, but about looking at the root causes of these issues and helping those involved and taking them out of such situations.

A campaigner against female genital mutilation, Dukureh is certain that a lot of women do not have choice to make against the practice since they are too dependent on someone to feed them and their children leading them to make some irrational decisions.

Jaha with the help of Safe Hands for Girls will provide trainings for these beneficiaries such as teaching them how they can invest their money and save the income generated.

She advised young Gambians especially young women to believe in themselves and know that everything in life is achievable. Taking example from herself, she said she never thought that she will attain such an accolade, but it has happen and for her to be the face of the biggest cosmetic brand in the world is something even her mother would not have ever dreamt of in life. Adding that everything is about resilience, not giving up, believing in oneself, and standing up for the truth and that if one knows what one is doing is right, one should not be afraid of anything or anyone. “This is what has guided me over the years. I hear a lot of things about myself which is not true and comments online which are false but at the end of the day, I am standing on my truth,” she said.

L’Oreal Paris is a French personal care company with its headquarter in Clichy and registered office in Paris. The company is the world’s largest cosmetics company concentrating on hair colour, skin care, sun protection, make-up, perfume and hair care.

Sidia Jatta Warns Lawmakers to Desist from Deploying Sentiments in the War against COVID-19

By: Kebba AF Touray

Sidia Jatta, National Assembly Member for Wuli West, has warned his fellow lawmakers to desist from deploying sentiments in the war against coronavirus.

He said the world is at war with an invisible enemy (COVID-19). He said this on Friday at the Legislative House in Banjul while debating on the report of the Special Committee on the Implementation of the State of Public Emergency.

He said: “That is what must be understood. We are on a battle field against an invisible enemy. It is attacking us and we are incapable of attacking it because we don’t have weapon to attack it. But the beauty of our being as human being is the ability to overcome any difficulty that comes our way”.

He said “that is our nature, intelligence, but you cannot win war with sentiments. Wars are not fought with sentiments. Wars are fought with ideas, skills, and objectivity and with required weapons to fight”.

He said that the beauty in human being is that even though the enemy is invisible, but intelligence has shown mankind the ways of preventing oneself from the pandemic even though it is not visible.

He said this is what we must be thinking about and is where intelligence lay and that the Coronavirus is not seen, but one can prevent oneself from it and that is intelligence and that is the issue.

He added that in the fight against covid-19, sentiments have no place, rather it is tactic that is employed to fight the invisible enemy and there is the need to strengthen and reinforce it to fight against the pandemic.

He said: “That is the tactic and strategy that we have been developing to overcome an enemy that you cannot see. Sentiments do not have place here. I have said it over and over and I will repeat it, this National Assembly is the heart and soul of the nation. The nation depends fundamentally on this Assembly, and we cannot afford to use sentiments to fight war.”

Jatta said: “We must use the required weapons if we want to win this war. We know there are seated cultural practices and we all know what they are in our society, but we cannot use those to fight this war. This war is much more powerful than those”.

He continued “we must help our people to grow and empower themselves against this enemy. We cannot do anything to weaken them against the enemy and if we do that we are failing in our responsibilities in this National Assembly”.

Jatta said: “Our job is to empower our people, in such a way that even though they cannot see this enemy they can fight it and win it. We cannot use sentiment to help our people become big and powerful against such an enemy”.

He urged the citizenry and lawmakers not to mitigate themselves and said that all the forces are needed today to become stronger against the invisible enemy which is devastating the world and that is the issue at hand.

Jatta said this is his first time of seeing a virus like COVID-19, noting that it is the global pandemic and that is the reason the world is united against the virus and urged the lawmakers not to weaken themselves with sentiments, adding that they are not helpful in any situation especially in the fight against COVID-19.

He said that commitment, concerted efforts and the means are required and necessary in this circumstance to fight against COVID-19, but cautioned that people should not be weaken in fighting the devastating enemy whose durability is not known, with the emergence of new cases in China.

He said: “We must be really prepared to fight this war and we are very ill-armed. We must not allow ill-armless to continue by discouraging people, by putting sentiments into people to accept what is going to kill them”.

Jatta averred “That is not our role and if we do that, we are failing our people. We must help them to understand what they do not understand and that is part of our responsibility to help ourselves to become aware and fully understand the nature of this enemy, so that we can help others to arm themselves better”.

He expressed his support with the extension of the period, adding that the pandemic is emerging in the country and warned that the number of cases must not be underrated as it grows, saying that the pandemic starts with smaller numbers everywhere and becomes a larger number.

He said “So why do we want to become complacent to an enemy that is waging onslaught on the world. We cannot afford that and that is why ‘Prevent yourself is better than cure’.”

He said: “It is not impossible for us to overcome this enemy, but we cannot overcome it disunited, sentiments cannot help us in this circumstance, we need much more than that.”

Special Committee Recommends Extra 21 Days Extension of State of Public Emergency

By: Kebba AF Touray, reporting from the National Assembly

Alagie Mbow, the Chairperson of the National Assembly Select Committee on the Implementation of State of Public Emergency Regulation, said his Committee has recommended the extension of the state of public emergency for 21 days subject to strict adherence and effective implementation of the regulations.

Hon. Mbow said this while laying the report of the committee’s on its just concluded assessment visit, to obtain first-hand information on the implementation of the state of public emergency.

He said the committee visited fish landing sites, fish meal, border posts, ferry terminals, Bwaim Hospital, Basse and Basang hospitals, held Consultations and meetings, to attain first- hand information from the visited areas, to enable the committee make assessment, with the objective of handling the spread of COVID-19.

He said the committee observed that social distancing was not implemented, especially on beaches and markets. He added illegal entry in to the country, lack of proper coordination and communication among the Ministries is a problem.

The report among other things, aims to inform National Assembly Members on the state of implementation of regulations and its impacts on life and livelihoods of the people.

“During our consultation with Ministry of Finance and Health, it was observed that almost 720 million will be spent in terms of medical equipment, Personal Protective Equipment and other things related to health”, he said.

The debate is still ongoing and Foroyaa will give detailed report on the session in subsequent editions.