By: Kebba AF Touray
The Minister of Works Bai Lamin Jobe, has confirmed to the deputies that certain zones of the country were neglected in terms of connectivity; that these include URR and the Hakalan zone in Kiang. Jobe said these neglected zones have been prioritized to boost their connectivity aspirations; that for Hakalan, the designs and surveys are ready and negotiations are at an advanced stage for its funding. He assured that works on these roads will start soon. He further said such this is the case with Kiang Sankandi road 2 and the Jokadu feeder roads amongst others.
“Let me generally say that we are still pursuing the 400 kilometres of rural roads. I have to tell you that roads are expensive and our estimate is about 25 million dalasi will be spent per kilometre, to construct a proper road, and that is no small amount of money,” he added.
He urged the National Assembly to help them expedite parliamentary approval of the budget that the House did not previously approve, to ensure such road network provisions are possible; that the country lacks the local capacity to produce good roads; that all roads constructed in the country, was done by foreigner Companies; that this results in the payment of fat salaries to foreigners and for their equipment. He decried the exorbitant cost of US$500,000 (D25 million) per kilometre of road.
“One of the strategies we are going to adopt is to build local capacity to build our roads, at least in the medium and long term. The issue of Banjul is quite urgent and needs a broad design of what needs to be done and for what amount. Due to the urgent nature of the issue, we have decided to flood an EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) and invite any contractor who wants to pre-finance the components of the project. At the moment, we have not finalized who is doing what component, but we have a local contractor who is fully engaged in the EPC arrangement. We do not even have the money, but we have the need,” he said.
“We are on top of things as far as drainage, roads, sewage and solid waste management is concerned. With proper drains that will be mostly covered and solid waste properly managed, one can have proper roads. We are seriously looking at this. We have to build the capacity of the Banjul City Council (BCC), to be able to manage the City and we have engaged them in that respect, because they have to manage the city to address the situation of Banjul,” he concludes.