By Omar Bah
As part of a recent compensation agreement with the Gambia Ports Authority, the port’s management has revealed that Bakau will get D14.9 million.
According to the GPA MD Ousman Jobarteh, out of this sum, D9.9M will go to the occupants of the land while D5M will go to the community of Bakau for development purposes.
Jobarteh said though the land in question is state’s, the occupants should be compensated as per the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act for user rights because they have been farming on the land and realising some economic benefits.
Muslim High School
The GPA also confirmed reaching a compensation agreement of about D74 million for the relocation of Muslim Senior Secondary School to Brusubi and D24 million has already been paid as compensation for the space occupied by the GTTI Annex and classes have been relocated from there to the GTTI in Kanifing.
Giving more details on the port expansion project, the GPA boss disclosed that his office had commissioned a master plan and ran out an international tender which was won by Royal Haskoning, a firm based in the Netherlands which has since prepared the master plan submitted in July 2019.
“The basis of the master plan was to do a demand forecast for 20 years between 2019 and 2038 alongside a business plan from 2019 to 2023 to guide the investment decisions in the immediate term. The master plan investigated location issues and also looked at relocating the port to southern coastal part of the country, identifying five locations between Bijilo and Kartong,” he said.
However, according to MD Jobarteh, the consultant recommended that there is no business case to construct a port along the coastal line in those locations after realising that it will cost $500 million to complete the project, which would have to include creating a breakwater for shelter to build the jetties.
“That is why they came to the primary recommendation that for the next twenty years, the best option is to expand the port. They identified three urgent components that were built in the business plan which is to increase the ship accommodation to create more space to handle three ships at a time, (because now we can only accommodate 2 ships at a time) expand the container storage areas and invest in port digitalisation,” he said.
In terms of value investment, MD Jobarteh added that $80 million is projected for the port expansion. He said the port jetty will be expanded towards where the ferry terminal is stationed while the terminal will be relocated to where the Karpowership is stationed.
The GPA MD said they will also purchase two new ferries to improve movement between Banjul and Barra.
According to MD Jobarteh, his office has been reliably informed that the Chinese Government had offered to fund the port expansion through a grant but the Gambia Government was instead interested in investing those funds in the Nawec transmission and distribution system.
“That is how those negotiations could not progress as desired but the other option was for the GPA to access funding through the financial capital market and we ran solicitation for offers of term sheet for commercial loans from both local and international banks and in our analysis, Africa Finance Corporation appeared to be the most responsive so we started negotiations with them up to a point in mid 2020 when the ministry of finance was required to provide confirmation for the transaction to complete,” he said.
However, according to MD Jobarteh, the ministry of finance advised that they should instead deal with overseas development financial institutions. “They advised the GPA to opt for that funding option so we started engaging the European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank and both of them expressed keen interest to fund the project. Now the EIB is interested in funding the jetty expansion while the AfDB is interested in funding the container terminal and the port’s digitalisation,” he added.