By Omar Bah
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Bakary Badjie has confirmed that the Ministry of Justice has given him the go-ahead to terminate the contracts of all contractors hired to build government funded mini-stadiums across the country.
Minister Badjie made this disclosure in an interview with Star FM to be aired this morning.
He further revealed that the contracts should have lasted six months but were extended to one year because of the magnitude of the work and some logistical issues with the availability of cement among others.
He went on to explain the current state of the projects: ”When it comes to these contracts all the ministry can do is to award them and ensure there is money to implement them. So, when it was time for them to deliver, they failed and we engaged them and sought advice from the ministry of justice after which we extended the duration of the contracts. But when they failed to deliver for the second time we wrote to the ministry of justice again and informed them that the contractors have failed to deliver on time and that we want to terminate the contracts because it is the ministry of justice who can decide on that”.
The minister said a few days ago they received a response from the ministry of justice authorising them to terminate the contracts and take the contractors to court to recover their money and look for other contractors to finish up the work.
“However, I have to admit that the mini- stadium in Kiang is done while the one in Sandu is almost completed but the remaining four in Kafuta, Fulla Banta, Janjangbureh and Bwiam are yet to be completed. We understand the public frustration but I just want to say that we have done our part. These contracts were awarded to young people as a source of motivation to improve the image of their business,” he stated.
Minister Badjie said the contracts will soon be terminated and legal action will be taken against the contractors and the moment the monies are recovered the work will continue.
He insisted that the projects might have been delayed but they have not failed, adding that both the Kafuta and Bwiam mini stadiums are 80 or 85 percent completed.
Minister Badjie admitted that the country’s national team’s absence on home soil for the past two years has been one of the biggest setbacks to his ministry. “I will take that responsibility but people should understand that the ban on the stadium by Caf came at an early stage of my tenure,” he argued, explaining that the Gambia was given notification about the need to renovate the stadium in 2014.
He said the ministry never wanted to embark on piecemeal renovation and there was not enough funding and that has significantly affected the speed of work.
“We needed over D100 million to renovate the stadium and you know the ministry’s budget in 2023 is just D100 million. So, really, the government is very concern about the stadium but there are financial constraints,” he added.