On Sunday morning (26 September) I was out and about visiting the compounds that were inundated by the overflowing water from the open drain near the settlement of Campama Estate or Tobacco Road in the City of Banjul.
As the sitting National Assembly Member for Banjul North Constituency in which the affected area is situated, I felt obliged to visit each of the compounds being affected by the overflowing rain and sewage water which could not empty into the adjoining River Gambia through the Bund Polder Station (Pa Machine) pumping machine at Bund Road due to blockage in the canal. The water is not flowing due to the visible undergrowth of wild/tall grass and household garbage dumped into its pathway, thus making it stagnant with an overbearing stench.
Almost all the compounds in the neighbourhood are affected by this flooding, especially during these past days with the heavy downpour of rain water. The water does not only inundate the courtyards of these affected compounds but have entered their sitting and bedrooms and soaking their beds, mattresses, clothes and furniture.
Some of these struggling families are in real distress in the wake of the flooding which has destroyed some of their foodstuff e.g. bags of rice. In addition to this, the flood victims also reported the sleepless nights and days they had to endure scooping the water out of their rooms.
There is also another concern regarding the health of the members of these families, especially their children, who had to get into the water to move about.
Similar overflowing of water also affects some compounds in the other part of Tobacco Road near the swamps behind Alh. Tafsir Demba Mbye Street.
I have already informed some officials such as the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, Executive Director of National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), Managing Director of NAWEC as well as the Gambia Red Cross Society (GRCS), who have all demonstrated concern about the issue. I will also contact the Banjul roads construction contractor who could not be reached by telephone.
I was able to go round with the NDMA Regional Coordinator in Banjul to the affected areas i.e. compounds at Alh. Dawda Corr Street (Tesito) and Alh. Tafsir Demba Mbye Street, the bridge area of the canal and Bund Polder Station to assess the cause and extent of the disaster for relief.
One of the main challenges that needs to be addressed immediately is the removal of the undergrowth and garbage that are blocking the movement of the water in the open drain.
The Banjul City Council (BCC), Gai Construction, NDMA, NAWEC and Ministry of Works can coordinate to clear or excavate the blockage to allow for the free flow commencing from the Albion drain right through to Bund Road. The long term solution, however, would be to canalise the drain with concrete on the sides.
NAWEC should also endeavour to fix the pipe that used to deposit the sewage into the sea or to even treat the waste for other useful purposes.
BCC should sensitise and put in place a system of waste collection and management that ensures that people do not have recourse to dump their household garbage into the open drain.
As for my part as a NAM, I will continue with the advocacy and timely engagement of the relevant institutions and other players who have a role to play in addressing the concerns of the people. My doors are always open to be consulted and engaged for such purposes.