By Tabora Bojang
The project manager of the OIC Gambia Secretariat has disclosed that construction work on the much-expected road projects, previously slated for this month, has been delayed by difficulties with donor procedures exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak.
Last November, the CEO of OIC Gambia Yankuba Dibba told a National Assembly committee on government projects during a visit to the targeted roads that construction work will commence in March this year.
But speaking to journalists during a site visit for prospective contractors for the new urban roads Friday, Ebrima Colley disclosed that the projects could not commence by the original target date of March 2021 due to the multiple diverse requirements associated with donor funded projects, complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Initially, we planned to have this work start in March but man proposes and God disposes. Everything we had to do from our side, and from the consultant’s side, was done but these are funds that are not owned by the Gambia government and we have to seek approval from the other end [donor partners]. So in that regard, we will send [proposals], they will look at it, respond with possible recommendations for some changes, which you have to do and send it back. So that is actually the main cause for this delay”, Colley explained.
Asked in light of this whether all works will be completed ahead of the conference next year, Colley said: “We are looking at it [road works] to start in May.”
The project manager further indicated that tenders for the contracts will close next month which will be followed by technical and financial evaluations and negotiations subject to donor approvals, before the contracts are finally awarded.
“The assurance I can give Gambians is that these roads will be built. Construction will start before the end of the second quarter of this year and then 14 months after, they will be completed,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Secretariat and its partners conducted site visits for over 15 prospective local and international contractors that expressed interest in the construction of the 50KM 20 new urban roads.
The exercise, jointly held with the National Roads Authority, Ministry of Works and project consultant PACE & GAMECS, is meant to avail the interested bidders the opportunity to have firsthand information of the different conditions of the proposed sites, to effectively prepare their bids for the road construction.
Under the OIC 2022 conference package, The Gambia is expected to benefit from 20 new roads as well as a massive expansion of the Bertil Harding road which leads to the airport.