By Lamin Cham
The mayor of Banjul, Rohey Lowe and her team marked three years in office on May 12th, with among other achievements, a clean slate for BCC after paying up all debts accrued by the council over past years.
These enviable achievements, according to a statement from the council, were attained through systematic restructuring from 2018 when the mayor was elected.
These include the establishment of the office of the deputy chief executive officer, a proper procumbent office headed by professionals and an updated and efficient records office which transformed the filing system of the institution enabling it to not only be on top of its many activities but also for the first time, ensure that every staff at BCC has a personal file. The restructuring also ensured that for the first time, a clocking-in system using a fingerprint pass code was introduced for all staff to add value to the institution as it gives quick access to information and reports that show attendance.
A suggestion box was put in place for the general public to submit ideas, criticisms and observations about how they think the institution should be improved for the development of the capital. This has encouraged residents and Gambians at large, notably civil society organisations and other relevant stakeholders to partner with the council in an all-inclusive approach policy for the effective running of the city council.
The council also reported that over the last three years all the previous numerous bank accounts of the BCC were closed and all debts settled meaning that at the moment BCC doesn’t owe any bank, either through overdraft or debt.
From 2018 to date, the BCC reported maximum rise in its revenue of between 42 to 50 percent which enabled it to increase staff salaries as well as risk allowances for revenue collectors as an incentive against revenue leakages.
The council was also able to re-install electricity and water supply from Nawec which has cut off supplies forcing the council to be using generators for some three years before 2018, when the arrears were paid.
Over the past three years, BCC successfully embarked on many projects notably the Banjul-EU Project handled by eight professionals, while a robust team helped expand the BCC’s Refela women’s empowerment programme across the country.
In partnership with the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure, the BCC introduced a digital addressing system to each and every household, government office, businesses and other buildings across the city using Plus Codes and easy-to-use digital reliefs such as Google Maps.
The council also secured an inter-city relationship between Banjul and Saginaw, Texas, USA, as well as introducing the first-ever participatory budget estimates (2021) for Banjul City Council which attracted all the relevant stakeholders from ward development committees, CSOs, women and youth groups.
Contacted for personal comments on her three years in office, Mayor Lowe said she was blessed to have dedicated staff, councillors and partners: “It has not been an easy ride. We have made mistakes along the way because to err is human, but we continue to learn from these experiences to always improve what we do for the advancement of our people. To the Refela team, my family, the Banjul Youth Committee, the youths of Banjul, jerejeff, ala baraka, jarrama bui for working tirelessly for the progress of BCC.”
The mayor concluded by calling on yard-owners in the capital to pay their compound rates on time and vowed to continue the war on street littering.