Ousman Sillah, National Assembly Member (NAM) for Banjul North, on Tuesday, 18 September, 2018 paid a courtesy call on Mayoress Rohey Malick Lowe, at her office at the Banjul City Council (BCC).
The Banjul North lawmaker was accompanied by a delegation comprising Mrs. Oumie Sissoho Batchilly and Mr. Habib Jeng, both members of the Crab Island Initiative, Mr. Pap Birahim Jagne, Banjul North NAM Office Assistant, and Mr. Alagie Mansery Njie, Aide to the BN NAM.
Elaborating on the purpose of this official visit, Mr. Sillah said it is meant to intimate the newly elected Mayoress on the work he is doing as an elected NAM in promoting issues that are pertinent to Banjul and inhabitants both in and out of the National Assembly.
“Since both of us are elected by the people of Banjul to serve them in different capacities our commonality is the mandate given to us to promote their welfare,” said the Banjul North lawmaker.
Mr. Sillah spoke at length on how he is promoting the issues pertinent to Banjul at the level of the National Assembly through parliamentary questions and debates highlighting the deplorable conditions of the city and the need for the executive arm of government to intervene in addressing them. “I always talk about the conditions of the roads, drains and sewerage which are some of the pressing problems facing Banjul and also how Councils should be empowered and supported to fulfil their statutory responsibilities,” he said.
The Banjul North NAM also briefed the Mayoress on the proposed Banjul North Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Centre at the former Crab Island Initiative which he is promoting. He gave the genesis of the initiative which, he added, started during his election campaign and the pledge to do something about the school which appeared abandoned. He explained how the education authorities were approached resulting in an agreement to allocate part of the premises for the purpose of this TVET Centre. He said the Centre is seeking to provide short term training to school drop-outs, unskilled youth, potential and returning migrants to acquire relevant skills and establish enterprises to enable them become responsible, productive and dependable members of society.
The Banjul North NAM elaborated on the multi-stakeholder nature of the initiative which, he said, includes the government represented by the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) and Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (MoHERST), Banjul City Council (BCC), Banjul North NAM, former students of Crab Island, professionals, private sector and the community. He noted that BCC has always been factored and invited to participate in the process.
Mr. Sillah assured the Mayoress that based on his capacity and competence he is available to continue to give support to the Council in its work.
The Banjul North NAM concluded that they will continue involving the Council and that their participation is highly welcomed.
Mayoress Lowe, in her response, expressed her profound appreciation and gratitude to the Banjul North NAM for the visit and pledged her readiness to work with the lawmaker in addressing the concerns of the inhabitants of the capital city.
The Banjul Mayoress dwelled on the numerous challenges that the Council is presently contending with and how they are being addressed. She also explained her plans for the city.
On the issue of Crab Island, she explained that there is a misunderstanding regarding custody as the Council also has some plans for the place. She, however, hailed the initiative as laudable and that it is coming to complement her work and that of the Council and is highly welcomed. She pledged her full support to the Banjul North NAM in his efforts towards the realisation of the TVET Centre which will be benefiting the young people of Banjul.
For his part, Mr. Mustapha Batchilly, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Banjul City Council, gave further clarification on the misunderstanding regarding the facility and why the Council was not part of the process initially when invited by the NAM based on legitimate reasons. He, however, indicated that now that there is clarification Council is ready to be a partner in the initiative, adding that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) needs to be agreed on regarding the partnership.
Mr. Habib Jeng, Civil Engineer and Member of the Steering Committee of the Crab Island TVET Centre, explained that he readily agreed to be part of this noble initiative when he was invited as this is timely and coming to empower young people to become productive and independent. He further explained how the lack of certain skills among the work force is seriously affecting them in the construction industry and which always compels them to hire skilled persons all the way from neighbouring Senegal. He added that having in place such a training facility such as this Crab Island TVET Centre will be addressing this skills gap in the country.
Oumie Sissoho Batchilly, a private operator and Member of the Steering Committee, stressed the need to empower youth with employable skills which is the objective of the initiative, adding that this is also in line with the promise of the mayoress to provide employment for Banjul youths which can only be done by training them on skills which will lead to employment.