By Tabora Bojang
The Gambian agency for the management of public works, GAMWORKS, has recently held its 12th Annual General Meeting designed to review the Agency’s activities and operations for 2015-16.
Speaking at the Agency’s headquarters in Kanifing, the director general Ebrima Cham said four major projects and eleven delegated management contracts were under implementation at the Agency during the period under review.
Cham said among the projects that the Agency is implementing is the rural infrastructure development project which is financed by the Government of the Gambia with a grant of US$13 million from the OPEC fund for international development.
He said the implementation of this project has started in earnest and it will focus on the provision of social and economic infrastructure in rural and peri-urban areas and capacity building components for local Government authorities.
“Under the capacity building component a consultant has already carried out a needs assessment for all the councils and municipalities and identified the gaps,” he said.
DG Cham said the project will significantly contribute towards infrastructure development throughout the country and build the capacity of local government staff.
The enhancing value addition in the groundnut sector project commonly referred to as GGC Groundnut Project is another major project undertaken by the Agency funded by the Gambia Government through US$28 Million loan and Istisna’a financing from the International Development Bank IDB.
GGC has now been renamed the National Food security, processing and marketing corporation and the project according to him, will improve GGC’s processing facility and upgrade groundnut river transport system as well as improve groundnut storage and handling infrastructure.
The community-based infrastructure and livelihood improvement project as the Agency’s flagship project was financed with a loan of US$15.86 million and a technical assistance grant of US$400, 000 from the IDB and the government of the Gambia.
He noted that the CILIP project which closed in December 2016 is a success story which had a significant impact in the empowerment of local communities, reduction of poverty and development of rural and peri-urban areas.
“Delays in receipt of counterpart funding and disbursement suspensions cause delays in project implementation and increase cost,” he said.
Mustapha Njie, the chairman Board of Directors hailed the Gambia Government’s commitment, demonstrating more confidence in GAMWORKS with the inflow of new projects and more delegated management contracts being signed.
“We will continue to implement projects and contracts to the satisfaction of government, the sectors and our development partners, which will ensure the sustainability of our operations,” he added.
According to IMF, The Gambia’s economy was in difficulty during 2015 to 2016 as evidenced by the country’s large balance of payments and fiscal imbalances caused by policy slippages and persistent financial difficulties in public enterprise.
The foreign exchange market was also in turmoil as a result of executive directives on the exchange rates.
Meanwhile a senior government official has told The Standard that the new government is looking into suitable strategies with international donors by ways of substituting counterpart funding on their side to forms of kind assistances during the projects implementation processes.