By Tabora Bojang
Amid growing anxiety over whether the much talked about OIC summit road projects would ever be built after the promised starting date of March failed, President Adama Barrow has assured Gambians that work will start as soon as Gambia gets a no-objection from Saudi Arabia, approving the contractors earmarked by the OIC secretariat to build the roads.
The president made these assurances Friday during a visit to some of the OIC targeted roads to be constructed within the Greater Banjul Area ahead of the forthcoming OIC summit in 2022.
Last November, the CEO of OIC Gambia Yankuba Dibba told a National Assembly committee on government projects that construction work will commence in March this year but that failed to materialise with OIC explaining few months ago that the delay was due to the multiple diverse requirements associated with donor funded projects, complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, speaking to journalists at the end of the tour Friday, President Barrow said: “Seeing the reaction of the people you will know very well that they need these roads. These roads should have been done many years ago and that is why I think the people appreciate what we are doing and they are happy that work is coming to start. We have identified and agreed with the contractors. We are only waiting for no objection from Saudi Arabia and once we get that, work will definitely start and I think that will be very very soon.”
The president explained that negotiations with over 57 countries who are all expected to take decisions on Gambia could prove time consuming.
“Some 57 countries are making decision for Gambia to do these roads, so obviously those negotiations are not easy and that is why it has taken time but the most important thing is that we are coming to start work and everybody should now celebrate that Gambia is about to start roads that will make a difference in the lives of the people”, Barrow added.
Also responding to concerns whether the projects will be completed before the summit, Barrow said he is optimistic.
“It is about one year and we are very optimistic that we can do it within time but we wait and see. I want to call on every Gambian to support the government so that we can fulfil this huge project. It is a game changer and will change the lives of the people, so it is a Gambian project and not Adama Barrow’s project,” he added.
Meanwhile, the president and entourage came under a barrage of chants from the community of Brufut who were out in large numbers chanting “We need our road, we have long been waiting in vain,”. The president was seen waiving 3 fingers which many said meant three weeks time while other said he could mean three months time.