When President Adama Barrow goes on the annual Meet the People Tour this year from the 13th to 30th September, he has a lot to report back to the people.
The President is required to tour the country at least once a year to enable him and his cabinet gauge the impact of government policy and programmes on the lives of the people. It also provides the President the opportunity to report back on some of the projects the people demanded. Since touring the country in 2016 as a candidate and assuming office as Head of State in January 2017, President Barrow has delivered on many of his promises and demands from the people.
Even as he has lived the experience of the virtual absence of significant infrastructural development around the country especially rural Gambia, touring the country as President has helped provide him with a more vivid illustration of the dire situation in some parts of the country. Seeing the horrible condition of the roads was particularly awakening. And as a result, President Barrow ensured that some of the regions left behind and without motorable roads are prioritised.
In the North Bank Region, the development of the Nuimi Hakalang Road, a 86 kilometre dirt road connecting over 50 communities and home to about 100,000 people, has been a rallying cry for the people in the region for decades. This year, when President Barrow tours Nuimi and Jokadu, he can happily report back to the people about the ongoing construction and near completion of the Hakalang Road.
The President can proudly and fittingly report back to the people that travelling between Juffureh to Albreda or Kerr Mbuguma to Fass Omar Saho or Kuntaya to Buniadu, would now be within minutes instead of hours. He can also tell the people about the significant improvements on the movement of goods and services within the Lower and Upper Nuimi districts and Jokadu. President Barrow can add that reaching schools, hospitals and markets would no longer require the use of donkey carts or motorbikes navigating potholes or streams of muddy ponds.
The people of Nuimi and Jokadu will be pleased to hear that the President has delivered a promise that more than 50 years of nationhood under successive administrations couldn’t deliver. He can also tell them that despite incredible odds and challenges, and with the use of locally sourced revenue, he has delivered on the Hakalang and other feeder roads in the region that they, and generations before them, have been yearning for.
President Barrow can also happily tell the people of the North Bank Region that the construction of modern offices and residence for the Governor and his administration is underway and will soon be completed.
Similar to the Hakalang road, the President can report back to the people of Badibu, Saloum and Nianija on the progress of the North Bank Rural Roads Projects. These roads, a combined 86 kilometres of all-weather modern tar roads, like the Hakalang, will be a first in these regions since The Gambia became a country. One part of the road project, a 38 kilometre stretch, will connect several villages, including Saba Sukoto, Bambali, Sarakunda and Ngayen Sanjal, on the south side of the North Bank Highway. The other 48 kilometre stretch on the north side towards the Gambia-Senegal border will connect Kaur, Jimbala, Kerr Uldeh and Kerr Chaindu. These roads will help ease the movement of people and the transportation of goods and services from the highway into the communities and to the people’s doorsteps.
The President can give a progress report on the Kerr Gibi-Nyanga Bantang road project in the Upper Saloum district. This particular road will connect communities in Nianija south of the North Bank Highway to the banks of the River Gambia.
The President can then confidently move into Sami and Sandu in the CRR and Upper River Region, to report about the building of a 30KV electricity power line. This electricity project is part of the President’s no-community-left-behind development agenda. The President can reiterate his clarion call to end the injustice of bypassing specific communities in the distribution of national infrastructure and other amenities by the previous administrations. He can stand tall and talk about the Gambia Electricity Restoration and Modernisation Project (GERMP) that will, by 2023, provide access to electricity to about 700 communities around the country.
In the Upper River Region, President Barrow will tout his signature project in the Wulis, Kantora, Tumana and Basse – the URR Roads and Bridges, also known as the Ring Roads, connects URR North and South through the Basse Bridge. The Ring Roads runs from Kerewan Badala in Wuli West to Yorobawol and the Laminkoto – Passamass highway across the Fatoto Bridge in the east and round through Kantora and over the Chamoi Bridge back to Basse. This mega project will transform the country’s eastern end into a regional hub for trade and commerce in the sub-region. For the first time in history, it will facilitate quick and easy access to essential services for people within this vast and heavily populated region.
In his bid to end the electricity problem in the country, President Barrow can report back to the people about the OMVG hydroelectricity energy initiative that he chairs among his counterparts in the sub-region. The President will have the opportunity to inform the people about the soon to be launched OMVG power plant in Soma and Brikama, which will significantly increase the country’s electricity generation capacity. The power generated from this plant will benefit mostly off-the-grid communities in the rural parts of the country.
In Kiang, the President can also talk about the electrification and roads project in the region. Since independence, Governments have overlooked the Kiangs in almost every aspect of infrastructural development. That has now changed. In November last year and for the first time in history, President Barrow led a teeming crowd of Kiangkas to switch on the streetlights in Kwinella. Now travelling through Kiang by night, one cannot help but look in awe at the glow of the streetlights in Dumbuto, Kwinella and Sankandi. And in July this year, at Sankandi, President Barrow laid the foundation stone of the 86 kilometres Kiang West Road project. This road that has been undeveloped since independence, is a major throughway connecting several villages along the Kiang West corridor from Sankandi on the TransGambia highway to the southern banks of the River Gambia in Kemoto.
And in Foni, President Barrow can also report to the people about his government’s tremendous work in bringing back unity and cooperation in the region. The President can also reiterate his government’s no-community-left-behind development agenda and how by 2023, the whole of Foni will have access to electricity. As part of the Gambia Electricity Restoration and Modernisation Project (GERMP), about 100 communities in West Coast Region, including Foni, will have access to electricity.
President Barrow can also talk about his government’s successful Covid-19 relief initiative in Foni. During the pandemic, the government directed food and cash distribution to thousands of homes and households in Foni. The pandemic relief initiative helped mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on food security and nutrition around the country. About 350,000 people in the country benefited from the programme, including 83,000 households who received direct cash benefits.
In the Kombos and the Greater Banjul Area (GBA), President Barrow can harp on the much-improved electricity situation and the anticipated OIC roads project. The President can give a progress report on the Jamburr-Farato road project among other feeder roads that will help decongest traffic in the Kanifing Municipality and its suburbs.
By the time the President returns to Banjul, it will be a happy homecoming. He can take a seat, relax and take a deep breath and let the Banjulians do the talking. The transformation of the roads in Banjul is self-evident. The dilapidated conditions of the streets in Banjul are now a thing of the past. The roads in Banjul are so smooth that not only vehicle owners and pedestrians are happy, young people and kids have also taken to roller-skating in the streets of Banjul.
During the tour, President Barrow can also talk about his administration’s achievements in the education sector. He can say loud and clear that over 3,000 classrooms and 1,000 teacher quarters were built under his administration. He can also talk about his government’s overall investment in the intellectual and technical development of Gambians and young people mainly through scholarships and tuition grants for higher education and vocational training.
On agriculture, President Barrow can report about his government’s heavy investments in the sector. This year, farmers around the country have access to enough fertiliser at a highly subsidised cost of D700 per bag. President Barrow can also report about the distribution of 50 tractors around the country to support farmers to enhance their production capacity.
The President can talk about the immense work the Ministry of Agriculture is doing among women farmers and horticulturists under the able leadership of Hon. Amie Fabureh. Through the Ministry of Agriculture and funding from partner organisations, women and young people in the agribusiness industry now have the budget to improve their products and production capacity. The $80million project will help women, and young farmers access markets through the agribusiness value chain, thereby enhancing their economic status and wellbeing in society.
President Barrow can also report about the state of governance, respect for the rule of law and freedom of expression, and the media in the country. The President can look around and proudly say that today, under his administration, there are no political prisoners in the country. President Barrow can talk about the ongoing process of decongesting our prisons and transforming them into institutions for the rehabilitation and reintegration of former offenders. He can also inform the people that line ministries are now free from the clutches and overreach of State House in daily operations of government business. Under the previous administration almost all government business were run from the Office of the President. That is now a thing of the past. Civil servants and government functionaries are allowed to operate freely and held accountable based on their performance and terms of service.
Finally, to cap it off in the field of governance, President Barrow can talk about how free and open Gambian society is today compared to four years ago. The level of democracy and freedom of expression in the Gambia today is incomparable to any time before in the country’s history. The country’s ranking on freedom of the press and democracy by various international bodies is a testament to this fact. All this is thanks to the leadership of President Adama Barrow and his commitment and dedication to the principles of democracy and respect for human rights.
Notwithstanding all this, the President will still listen to the people. He will again listen to hear their concerns once more. And in so doing, when he returns to the people next year, he will have a lot more to report back to them.
Source: State House