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City of Banjul
Friday, December 1, 2023

Inaugural speech – Mayor Bensouda

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Bismillah Rahman Raheem
Hon. Ministers, and in particular the Hon. Minister of Lands and Regional Government
Hon. Secretary General
Excellences and members of the diplomatic corps
Permanent Secretaries and heads of institutions
Councilors elect and Alkalolu
Distinguished guests,
I thank you all for gracing this occasion with your presence.
It has been a tough one year but we have seen it through to this moment by Allah’s grace. Alhamdulilah Rabilalamin.

This moment would not have been possible but for the hard work of some wonderful people. It would be impossible to name them all.
I would like to express my gratitude to all of them.
To my family and my friends, I thank you for your unwavering confidence in me; for your support and commitment.

I thank the United Democratic Party (UDP) for selecting me as their flagbearer and thereafter rallying behind me to this moment. In particular, I recognize my UDP campaign team for running a clean, structured and focused campaign, all chairmen and women and Yaiyi Compins.

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I say a big thank you to all my well-wishers and supporters and all the residents of KM including all the Councilors elect, with whom I have the honour of beginning a new journey today.
Today marks the beginning of a new struggle. The struggle to deliver the dream for the development of a green and prosperous KM.
After a hard and competitive election campaign, the expectations of the people for a better standard of living are enormous.

During our campaign, we visited thousands of homes, communities, markets and public spaces. I witnessed first-hand the poverty that plagues our communities and the hazardous and dilapidated conditions in which many of them live.

From the Bakoteh dump site, to the garbage hills of Kotu Quarry. From the slums of Chube town and the eroded roads of Bundung, to the swamps of Talinding and Ebotown and Abuko.
Unemployment is rife, with limited or no access to basic services, exposure to fatal health hazards, and very poor or non-existent infrastructure.

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I have seen and shared the reality of the majority of the residents of KM.
These experiences have been very sobering. These experiences have strengthened my determination and resolve and served as a reminder of the reason why I decided to enter politics.
The residents of Kanifing Municipality deserve much better from their council. The people deserve to have a municipal council that is committed to addressing their basic needs. That is what councils are for in all successful countries.

While I cannot promise to turn the Kanifing Municipality into the perfect metropolis within this time. I can promise you the following:

I shall turn the Council into a service oriented institution for all residents of KMC.
This Institution and the office of the Lord Mayor shall no longer be a political bureau. Instead this office shall be a place of hard work where professionals come to serve the municipality and deliver much needed services to its people.

I shall wake up every single day and give all my effort, determination and commitment towards this end.
The focus of the KMC under my direction as Chairman of the council will be to develop a sustainable municipality, that will spur growth, create opportunities and increase the standard of living of its residents in a responsible manner.

I am sure you are all familiar with my 5 point plan. It is an ambitious yet realistic plan that will require the collective support of the Council, the community and the Central Government.
In these three years and nine months we shall ensure that the municipality is well equipped with qualified, dedicated and professional workforce. As a priority we will commence a human resource and capacity audit of all the Council’s administration, management and support staff to determine the capacity gaps to be filled to deliver on its promise.

We shall focus on the development of Council bye-laws and rebuild the audit, compliance and enforcement capacity of the Council.
Fundamentally, and key to my plan will be a substantial assessment of all revenue generating sectors and the adequacy of the current budget, collection mechanisms and financial accounting tools and procedures to drive towards fulfilling my 1 Billion Dalasi revenue target.

We shall focus on strengthening and ensuring that revenue is collected and accounted for in a transparent manner, thereby reducing leakages and increasing confidence of the residents in the Council.
As we embark on this struggle, we shall count on you, the community of Kanifing to work with us and support us, to criticize and question us, so that we can achieve this common dream of a KMC that works for each and every one of us.

Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank the outgoing Interim Chairman, Mr Bakary Jammeh and his management team for achieving so much in only 3 months. I have followed their progress keenly. During this short time in office they have been able to move the Council’s bank balance from an overdraft GMD5 million to over GMD8m in the bank. The interim management team paid up 80% of KMC’s contribution to substantial infrastructure projects, and reduced the Municipalities debt substantially.

Mr Jammeh and team, thank you for your commitment, dedication and service to the Municipality. We will build on the work that you started.
I would also like to thank the KMC staff for their hard work in making sure that today’s event is a success.
I would like to remind you that public service requires commitment and sacrifice. We must rededicate ourselves to the residents of this municipality; to provide for its needs and create a more conducive environment for living.

I look forward to working with all those who will work with me on that basis.
Honourable Minister of Local Government and Regional Administration. I look forward to working with your Ministry to build the capacity of the KMC into an autonomous municipality that is able to deliver effective services to its residents.

A Council that eases the burden of central government, and, is an effective partner for development.
Together, we will all work towards a better KMC.
Thank you. Ramadan Mubarak. Wa Salam.

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