By Nelson Manneh
Kanifing Municipal Council officials yesterday indicated numerous flaws in the amended Local Government Act 2002.
The government has recruited the services of a consultation Firm to review the Local Government Act 2002 and they have now embarked on regional consultations with councils to seek their opinions.
“The Act derives its legal basis from the 1997 constitution in which section 193 states ‘Local Government Administration shall be based on a system of democratically elected councils with a basic degree of local autonomy’,” said Fatou Gibba the Director of Governance at the Kanifing Municipal Council.
She told stakeholders at the consultation at the KMC main hall in Kanifing yesterday, the 21st of November 2019, that the Local Government Act has suffered eight amendments within seventeen years.
Madam Gibba said the functions and duties stipulated in the Local Government Act provide the legislative framework for the establishment and administration of councils as well as laying a process of decentralization and local reform in the Gambia.
“It is the considered view of many in the local Government fraternity that the amendments have transformed councils as virtual arms of the central government and subjected them to the influence of the executive arm of government,” she stated.
She said the undesirable state of affairs was brought about in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2015 by substitution of very important provisions with self-empowered ones resulting in its dilution of the content.
“As a result of the several amendments, many provisions had no contemporary relevance and are confusing and difficult to read and interpret,’ she noted.
She asserted that the amendment has led to parts of the Act becoming ambiguous and inconsistent, some sections been unnecessarily prescriptive while others have obscure meaning.
“In some areas, critical legislative detail is lacking. The Act also contains a historic and redundant provision, which should be removed from the Act,” she said.
She said some very pertinent sections of the main Act were altered and they are in line with the provisions of the strategic plans which the Ministry of Lands and Regional Government intends to review and amend in the Local Government Act 2002.
Demba Sanneh the Director of Administration said series of Amendments have been done on the Act and that has affected the law.
According to him, there were instances when amendments were made on the Act twice in a year.
” Councillors should be accountable to their various electors in order to promote transparency and accountability,” he said.
He said the document should be looked at critically in order to promote the welfare of voters.