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City of Banjul
Sunday, October 1, 2023

Letter to the new chairman of Brikama Area Council


Dear Editor,

I am extending my congratulations to The People’s Chairman, Yankuba Darboe on his election as BAC chairman. I wrote to the selection committee of the UDP to choose him as the party’s flag bearer and he won. Now I am extending to him my thoughts about the many challenging issues he has to tackle.

First Mr Chairman, know that you are in charge of a government, albeit on reduced scale. This means you have a similar or even more complex job than the president at the central government.

Mr Chairman, government, be it central or local, has one key fundamental role: moving society from the informal to the formal. Left to people alone, societies would still remained informal, and that’s were the essence of government is seen by imposing regulations that will usher in formalities.

Mr Chairman, your predecessor failed woefully due to incompetence. By all standards, you are chosen and got elected due to your credentials and professional track record as an erudite lawyer who lived in a much more developed and industrialised nation, UK. The electorate have high hopes that you can do the job! Mr Chairman, with all the years that you lived in UK, I am sure you have seen how municipalities in UK tried to discourage informal living. For example: gypsies and homeless people who squatter in neighbourhoods are often chased away by municipal police. The municipality as a local government cannot be sentimental to the plight of homeless people by compromising one of its key fundamental pillar of leading and guiding the society to become a standard formal society! And that is why every aspect of the society is well regulated and you cannot find chaos within settlements in their societies!

Mr Chairman, I was elaborating on the informal and formal aspect of our society and government which is all geared to tell you in a blunt language that: it is high time to ban all those forms of bric-a-brac knick knackery zinc-corrugated shops with immediate effect! That is the way forward to a more decent path to modernisation and safety from frequent fires. And in fact, it is high time to revamp and reinvent our market structures and formulate a new order that would be a perennial solution. Candidly, a holistic paradigm shift is needed to find a final solution to the issues of overcrowding and fires in our markets.

Mr Chairman, I would definitely want you to contemplate about separation of markets, meaning the agro-businesses and the textile businesses must be separated from one venue. It is high time for Brikama Area Council to start brainstorming about where to relocate those textile stalls faraway from the agro businesses. I believe it is high time that BAC plans the construction of a standard ultra modern commercial centre for West Coast Region that would be a textile hub for the entire region to be built faraway from the current market. That will help to decongest the current market. The population of West Coast Region is increasing at an alarming rate and economic migrants are flooding in from other Ecowas countries.

Mr Chairman, if your council steps in to regulate the agribusinesses by standardising the sector, I bet the council will create a conducive environment for job creation and formalise the livelihoods of all actors in that sector. This would mean women who do gardening in Gunjur, Sifoe, Sanyang or Bakau would no longer need to go by themselves to sell their vegetables at makeshift stalls at the market; instead agro-unions would be established where members would open bank accounts and suppliers would pay directly into their accounts for the produce sold . The agro-unions would have vehicles to collect produce directly from the gardens and transport them to the markets where well-trained employees  or sales agents at council stores would sell the produce.

This is just one example of what your council can do to put our markets and agricultural produce vendors on a more efficient and formal system that would eliminate chaos and congestion in our markets!

Morris Ceesay

Paris, France

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