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Sunday, October 1, 2023

‘OIC roads project could take 5 years unless…’

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By Alagie Manneh

Latrikunda Sabiji lawmaker, Yahya ‘Menteng’ Sanyang has countered claims by Works Minister Ebrima Sillah that the delay of the 20 OIC road projects is as a result of a scarcity of sand.

“The minister’s statement is misguided and untruthful,” Mr Sanyang told The Standard Sunday, adding that the pronouncement was a “well-calculated move to divert the attention of concern Gambians and residents around OIC roads”.

Sanyang added that either the minister failed to speak the truth because he has not been updated on the progress of the roads by his technicians or he just wanted to divert the attention from reality. “To say there was a lack of sand sounds quite ridiculous. The delay of the roads is largely due to inefficient contractors and lack of coordination among the project implementation structures and partners,” Sanyang said

He explained that the true situation is that the implementation of the projects will be difficult without the right contractors and proper project implementation structures.

The NAM who once worked at the OIC said when he was there they have put in place an effective project oversight structure which included a road reserve committee composed of all the institutions that have their services on the roads’ corridors to enhance speedy and effective relocation of services. “We also instituted project coordination units comprising all institutions benefiting or implementing the OIC projects, including Nawec, NRA, the works ministry and the OIC,” he stated.

Hon Sanyang said a steering committee as the ultimate project oversight body was also created, and that includes even cabinet ministers.

“But to my biggest surprise and disappointment none of these project oversight bodies are functional as of now, and this is what is largely causing a delay of the successful implementation of these projects.

“When I was at the OIC, we identified all the services on the roads corridors and if there was a serious project oversight, by now all those services should have been relocated so I don’t know why the minister is attributing the delay to lack of relocation of services. They need to put their house in order, otherwise the OIC roads construction will take another five years or more before completion. This project was supposed to be completed in a period of 14 months,” Hon Sanyang said.

He argued that the delay could not have been attributed to a lack of funds since the project is not being funded by the Gambia government.

“However, the donors can withhold payments if the progress is not satisfactory. The minister should be constantly visiting the projects and reactivating the steering committee and start chairing the proceedings of such meetings as this would reinforce his knowledge, understanding of all the issues.”

Sanyang said citing scarcity of sand as the reason for the delay is a “test of our collective intelligence as citizens” and that must be denounced.

 “Therefore, I urge the minister to realise the urgency of the matter, and call for an emergency stakeholders’ convergence to map out a way forward for these OIC roads. Failure and lack of action should be punished and exposed,” Sanyang concluded.

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