As the devastations caused by Covid-19 continue to bite, some workers in the hotel industry have been questioning the circumstances surrounding the D20m given to Africell on their behalf through the UNDP.
The equivalent of 400,000 dollars was part of UNDP’s livelihood support to 8000 vulnerable Gambians in the tourism sector but some potential beneficiaries of the assistance have been voicing frustrations over what, they say, was the snail’s pace manner in which the disbursement process was being conducted.
“We have long since heard that the UNDP had given the government money to assist us in this turbulent times of Covid-19 but since the news came in, nothing remarkable had happened,” Buba Sanyang, a craft market vendor told The Standard.
“We were told that the money had been disbursed to the government by the UNDP sometime ago but since this information filtered here, we are still waiting with no words from the government,” a tourist taxi driver, who wish to remain anonymous, lamented.
Meanwhile, several potential beneficiaries have appealed to the government to facilitate the expeditious payment of the funds as times get harder.
“Times are getting tougher and the earlier the money reaches the beneficiaries, the better,” another potential beneficiary said.
However, the Minister of Tourism, Hamat Bah on Tuesday told The Standard that UNDP had indeed given D20m for some Gambians in the hotel industry but that the disbursement to the beneficiaries was inadvertently delayed.
“There was an error and we are correcting it. And, during the correction it took a bit of time. Now, I finally spoke to Africell manager last week. I’m waiting for the UNDP. Hopefully by next few days, I will try to get some developments. They should get it as soon as possible,” the tourism minister explained.
“The government of The Gambia is aware of the D20m from the UNDP for 8000 Gambians and we were getting to sign it [with Africell for disbursement]. I spoke to Africell manager last week and he was going to sign it. I’m waiting for them to get back to me so that we disburse the money,” Bah explained.