BY Kebba AF Touray
The Wuli East member of the Gambia National Assembly Hon. SuwaibouTouray made his contribution during the adjournment debate on 31st July 2017 and spoke on various issues affectingthe country such as the bad road conditions in Wuli, Water issues at Farato and the issue of fertiliser distribution among others.
Hon. Touray told his colleagues that he would have wanted to comment on certain issues but because the ministers in those portfolios were not present, he would instead leave those issues till another time.
The Wuli East member reminded his colleagues that he had suggested to them earlier on that if the fertiliser was not taken to the doorsteps of the farmers, its price would increase from D700 to D1000 per bag because of the transportation cost and other matters. “That is exactly what is happening right now in Basse and other places,” said Touray.
Hon. Touray said this was why he insisted that the 3 million dalasis that was reduced from the Agriculture budget should have been left intact to take care of the transportation cost of fertiliser to the doorstep of the farmers. In that case he said farmers would buy it at D700.
The Wuli East NAM said he commends the Minister of Works and Construction for taking time to find out the road conditions in the country. He said he had informed Parliament that the culverts at the feeder roads in Wuli were damaged and removed by the erosion and made the Wuli main roads impassable. He however said the old ‘tesito’ spirit is still in the people and he is really inspired by the ‘resolve’ to participate in fixing their damaged roads to allow vehicles passage during this rainy season.
He explained that the Sutukoba and Baja Kunda youths have come together and initiated work on their joint road to fix the damages at some spots since the main road to Passamas is in deplorable condition and all they need was fuel and tractor to do so, but which was not forth coming from the Area authorities. He said the youths had to resort to the NAM to contribute some fuel for the initiative.
He said the Governors are in the regions to represent the Government and the President and therefore should be alert in encouraging the Area Councils to provide support for such community initiatives in the regions. This, he said would further inspire the people.
On health, Hon. Touray suggested that the Health Policy on establishing Health Centers in the country should be revisited considering the sparse population in some constituencies. Hon. Touray said even though Wuli East population is slightly more than the 22,000 people required to have one Health Center, the long distance between health centers and the communities coupled with the bad road networks makes it necessary for certain villages to have minor health centers.
The Wuli East NAM reminds his colleagues that the Baja Kunda health center has some interventions by the Spanish philanthropists who had spent over D10,million dalasis over the years and gave a real facelift to the center. He said the center has all the facilities required for a major health center apart from having a medical doctor.
“When they get this single medical doctor then one can call the place a major health center. So that is one thing to be looked into,” he stated.
He also said he is a bit disappointed during his encounter with the minister of Health when he raised a supplementary question as to whether her Ministry would encourage communities who are ready to raise funds and build structures and provide drugs but only request a CHN nurse from government to take care of the pregnant women, who would give the necessary advice to them before delivery is due to reduce maternal mortality rate but the Health Minister said they would not encourage such local initiatives because communities would eventually turn to the government to take over the centers.
Hon. Touray asserted that villages that inhabit thousands of people should not be left without a single health care giver and said he would pursue this matter further with the relevant ministry.
On the issue of water, Hon. Touray said he would not talk about water for Wuli this time around but for Farato, Kombo South. The Wuli East member told Parliament that some years ago a particular minister lived at Farato Madina and a main water pipe was extended to his compound which NAWEC utilized to connect water to many homes. Touray however said the pipe is about 200 to 300 meters far away from some residents and those who apply for connection are charged between D150,000-D200,000 dalasis. He said because of the difficulties many neighbours depend on his borehole to access safe drinking water. He called on NAWEC to increase such main pipes to other streets to make it reasonable and easier for residents to access portable water supply at their doorsteps.
On the issue of Development blueprint, Hon. Touray said he would relax his case for now. He said he watched an interview with President Barrow over GRTS where he was asked about this issue and Barrow highlighted its importance and promised that it would be available soon.
He also said the intervention of the minister for Women’s Affairs and overseer of the Vice Presidency has also assured them that there would be a development plan. He said Madam Tambajang said this is indispensable and its implementation must be properly monitored and evaluated to ensure its success. He explained that he likened the situation of the Gambia to that of a patient who has been sick for many years and who has been taken to a hospital for diagnosis. He said when the doctor talks about doing a thorough check up to diagnose all the ailments in the patient, it should not be seen that the doctor wishes the patient to die. He said the doctor simply wants to do proper diagnosis so as to prescribe the appropriate drugs to help the patient to get well. He said this is why they are calling for a holistic development plan that would once and for all solve all these inherent development challenges to avert the recurrence of the economic ills that the country is currently facing.