By Yankuba Jallow
Sidia S. Jatta, the National Assembly Member for Wuli West, has challenged the Government of the Gambia to be strategic in planning for development.
He said development cannot be realized without strategic planning. The Member for Wuli West made this remark during the recent adjournment debate at the National Assembly. Sidia spoke on diverse issues ranging from road construction, land disputes, health and many more.
On Road Construction:
Sidia said road construction must be strategic. “I told the National Roads Authority (NRA) during our meeting with them at FPAC, that if they were strategic in road construction, that would have solved all our problems,” he said; that wherever there is a health facility, any road linking it to settlements, should be constructed because it is strategic and essential. He expounded that the road stretches from the River Bank to Yorobaol Ward was so bad to the extent that drivers took it upon themselves and contributed for its repair and maintenance.
“Together with the member for Wuli East, Suwaibou Touray, we were both asked to contribute. That did not solve the problem at all, but when President Adama Barrow was going there, they made it in such a way that I could not believe my eyes. I think I was in a new world. This was an insult to the people of the area,” he said. He emphasized that there are about four health facilities in that part of the country, but nobody cared to construct those roads. “They waited until their servant an employee was going there and made the road as if the people living in the area, are not human,” Jatta said.
He said both the Executive and the Legislature are servants of the people. “We are all servants of the people. We cannot be above them. They employ us and they pay us. That is why we derive our authority from them and that authority must be exercised in their supreme interest. That is what the Law says, and if that is not done, that should be the time one should be kicked out,” Jatta said.
He called on the Works Minister to construct roads in Wuli especially the one that stretches from Yorobaol Ward to the River Bank, and the one from Sare Ngai to the Trans-Gambia Road; that Sare Ngai is a business center and because of the bad condition of the roads, businessmen and women close by 3 pm.
“This really affects them. I am appealing to the Works Minister to make sure that the stretch is constructed before the rainy season. These are fundamental and strategic roads. Baja Kunda road should also be constructed because it is where the health facility is located,” Jatta said. He said the people there are taxpayers.
“Why are they paying taxes? Tax resources must be ploughed back to the people in the form of services. That is what they are meant for and if they are not doing this, then people should not pay. If this is not done, I will organize my people not to pay tax. I will tell them to keep it and we will organize ourselves and build our roads. That is what is going to be happening in this country. There is too much pain,” Jatta said. He said for 54 years, the country could only construct a single road; that roads which have been constructed, was done using loans.
He said agriculture and animal husbandry is a drive to national development but cattle across the country, lack access to water. He indicated that herdsmen are taxpayers and Government is required to construct water points for them. Jatta said colonialists were producing milk in the country before, but that as an independent State, Gambia could not produce milk but instead imports from the former colonial masters.
On the National Health Status of The Gambia
Jatta said for 54 years since attaining nationhood, the Gambia cannot still treat patients in the country.
“For 54 years, we cannot have specialist treatment in The Gambia. Only those who have money can go to Dakar and other parts of the world for treatment,” Jatta said; that those in authority will take people’s money and go abroad for treatment or hire specialists. He said the country needs neurosurgeons, and that Gambians should be sent for studies abroad to come back and serve the people. “Africa has everything and there is nothing you cannot study in Africa now,” he said.
He stated that liver cancer is a serious problem in the Gambia. “Independence is not about having a national anthem or a national flag flying out there. But it is the capacity to stand on your feet. It is the capability to provide all your primary needs,” Jatta said.
On Land Disputes
“They (the government) would fold their hands and wait until people start to kill each other, then they pretend to be doing something. This should stop,” the Wuli West NAM said.
He said the essence of a Government is precisely to work in the interest of the people. He challenged the Government to ensure that land disputes stop. He called on his colleagues to join efforts to make sure that wherever there is dispute over land, it is resolved.
“If we do not, I think we are going to have serious crisis like Gunjur and Berending,” he asserted.