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Ex-finance minister accuses State House of blocking port project

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By Omar Bah

Former finance minister and opposition UDP treasurer, Amadou Sanneh, has alleged that State House blocked a port expansion project he negotiated with the governments of Singapore and Dubai. 

Addressing a section of UDP Basse supporters recently, Sanneh said: “As a minister of finance, the expansion of the Banjul port was one of my top priorities. I had engaged the world bank and the IFC and we went to Dubai and Singapore and both countries showed interest to come and construct the Banjul port free of charge and they were going to treat it as a matter of urgency. We made all the arrangements and they sent their first reports but Adama Barrow and his minister of works at the time blocked it. They said they were not going to accept it.”

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Mr Sanneh said six years on, not much has been done at the port apart from ‘corruption scandals.’

“The only development happening there is the stealing of millions and the president is silent about it. Now containers will stay weeks before they are offloaded so importers who cannot bear it are bringing their goods through Dakar. So, because of that the CFA Franc is going up and basic commodities like cement are also going very high and as long as this government is there, we will continue to suffer,” he said.

Sanneh also accused the government of showing no interest to tackle corruption.

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Turning to the Basse bridge, Sanneh said the bridge was negotiated while the UDP executives were still serving in the government, arguing that the Chinese government who donated it was not anticipating that Gambians would be asked to pay to cross there.

“It is built to ease transportation for Gambians and not make things even more difficult for them. So, I want you to ask the government of Adama Barrow whether they are charging people at the Denton or Kerewan bridges? Why are they asking you to pay to cross the Basse bridge? This demonstrates that Barrow doesn’t care about you. But I can tell you, these are signs that the country’s economy is down and cannot take care of the government’s indiscipline spending and now they want to rob the population,” he said.

Sanneh said the government has no idea how to address the country’s commodities price crises.

“They cannot take this country anywhere because they don’t have the idea to do so. So, I appeal to you to stop clapping and dancing for them and let them know that they are misgoverning us. That we are tired of their destruction and the country can no longer sustain it. Our debt is over D88 billion and the burden will be on the Gambian people to pay,” he said.

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