By Omar Bah
Right2Know Coalition, a civil organisation of prominent Gambians living home and abroad has urged the National Assembly to open an inquiry into the controversial Banjul Roads Rehabilitation Project.
In a statement shared with The Standard hours after the government’s “major press conference” on the project, R2K said: “The National Assembly must take up the auditor general’s report on the rehabilitation project as a priority and trigger a parliamentary inquiry forthwith into the matter. They may also well include the flooding disaster in various environs, particularly Banjul into their terms of reference.
“The media should continue to investigate the matter, to ensure that pressure is brought on the government to be more transparent in its dealings generally, and more specifically in proactively disclosing accurate and relevant information surrounding the Banjul Roads Rehabilitation Project,” the statement added.
The group further called on the mayor of Banjul and the city council to organise a town hall meeting “to source and ventilate” the views of all stakeholders on the Banjul rehabilitation project, particularly the voices of those affected by the floods and the residents of the city.
“If along the way, through any of these processes, evidence of corruption and or abuse and or wasteful expenditure of funds are unearthed, then all culprits must be prosecuted as per the law,” the group added in the statement shared by Jeggan Grey-Johnson.
The Barrow administration, the group added, should have put people first instead of holding court for a questionable contractor with a questionable record.
“The noticeable absence of the lead contractor of the single-sourced US$37 million project, Hadim Gai, at the press conference raised some eyebrows since the government’s handling of the contract awarded is the centre of the controversy of the project,” the group contended. The group further argued that “neither the project consultant whose video presentation was marred by technical glitches, nor the minister’s interventions, provided the answers to the processes that led to the contract awarded to a company with little or no experience in road construction, whose principal and owner and team lack the financial, technical, managerial and environmental capacity to successfully implement the project”.
“The absence of the appraisal report of the project presents a challenge to supporters and critics alike. This makes it impossible to measure progress – assuming, of course, that the project design, as it is being implemented, is financially, economically, environmentally and socially a viable proposition. This explains the multitude of interpretations of what the project represents.”