First and foremost, before the President started his tour Foroyaa indicated that the purpose of the tour is to find out the concerns of the people and how government policies are impacting on their lives.
For example, there is the vehicle policy. Prior to the President’s tour, many vehicles were seized and kept at Denton Bridge. However, after the President started his tour the vehicles are no longer at Denton Bridge. What has happened to the vehicles? Are they part of the tour?
Secondly, farmers are claiming that the fertiliser may be coming in pieces but is not favouring them. What they need is for the fertiliser to reach them. It is essential that fertiliser is applied two weeks after planting. Hence that is a key issue that the President should work on as he tours the country.
Thirdly when crops are grown and harvested. They must be sold. The President would have made a big difference if the price of groundnuts had been determined and would tell the farmers the price of their crops and the concrete initiatives taken to ensure that there is no credit buying.
Furthermore, roads which have already been constructed are eroded and without rehabilitation the construction of new roads would go hand in hand with the lack of roadworthiness of old ones. One has to visit the Sandika area of Serrekunda to see how the good road constructed is now riddled with pools of water which started as potholes, which could have been repaired to save the road. The President should give assurance that his government is ready to put an end to the poor maintenance culture of the past.
Crossing with the ferries has become a major disruption of social and economic activity. Has the government done a study of the impact of building a bridge between Barra and Banjul on the use of the ports as an economic activity. How old is the Denton Bridge? What is its current life span? Has a proper inventory been done on when its replacement is due taking into consideration the unplanned growth in the number of vehicles that ply the bridge.
Development requires more realism. We therefore hope that as the President tours the country he will make a real assessment of the degree of poverty in the country and come back to engage the technocrats to find a real solution to the economic problems of the country.
However what is expected of a transitional government is to create an open society by carrying out the constitutional, legal and institutional reforms that are required to build a level ground that will ensure free exchange of views and free, fair and genuine elections when they are due.
We will therefore follow the rest of the President’s tour. Now that the government claims to have a spokesperson the newspaper reports will be followed more closely and the answers to the concerns of the people given through interviews, press conferences and press releases.