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Lower Saloum NAM says corruption taking Gambia backward

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By Tabora Bojang

In a rare outburst, Lower Saloum Member Sainey Jawara has described corruption as the biggest problem taking Gambia backwards and called on the National Assembly to undertake measures to end the misappropriation of donor monies by few selfish people..

NAM Jawara whose National Reconciliation Party (NRP) remains one of President Barrow’s dependable political allies, also strongly condemned acts by government officials in awarding public contracts to their friends, families or companies where they have interest.

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“You cannot be tasked for a job or public office and all you do is to secure yourself. None of these projects are done as designed or contracted and nothing is being said about it. When you contract somebody and the person is not doing a good job, stop him or her. But again, the fundamental wrong is how these contracts are awarded in the first place. They only award contracts to their friends or families or the persons they can use to do dubious acts,” the Lower Saloum NAM lamented.

He cited the state of the Independent Stadium where standard international matches cannot take place as a shame for the country.  “We were told the renovation was going to take six months but how many months have passed now?”, Hon Jawara said.

Jawara, who is serving his second term in the National Assembly was speaking at the presentation of the report of the Assembly’s committee on tourism, arts, culture, youth and sports who has just concluded an assessment tour of sport and tourism facilities under construction.

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The committee expressed dismay over the delay of a number of on-going projects, some even passing the expiration of contract durations.

These include the Barra Eco lodge, Sotuma Samba Eco Lodge, Farafenni Youth Centre, Fula Bantang and Gunjur mini stadia and the Independence Stadium among others.

“All these projects have been funded but still none of them are done yet. They mishandled all the money. As NAMs we cannot just bring reports, pass them and stop there. We have to put a stop on these issues because projects cannot come for our people just for a minority group to use it for their own selfish interest. This country is ours. We cannot just look into people’s eyes and not speak the truth to them,”, Jawara said.

 He advised that before a contract is signed the termination process should be spelt out clearly so that when it fails, it can be terminated. “But in most cases the right procedures are not taken in awarding contracts. Qualified contractors would be overlooked for unqualified ones who will give kickbacks. We have to be firm and avoid these things. Corruption is taking the country backward. Just imagine, you give a job to someone today and one or two years down the line, the person will start constructing a storey building,” Jawara charged.

In his contribution, Kombo South NAM Kebba K Barrow said time has come for the Assembly to look into the issue of contracts in the country.

“Contracts are being awarded and deadlines are missed. From the report, there is a failure in all the contracts awarded. We should get the bull by the horns and hold all the people or culprits to account because these are national budgets that are appropriated in this assembly. So, the right procedures and channels should be followed before contracts are awarded. Imagine D100 million has gone into the Independence Stadium and nothing has been achieved yet,” he observed.

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