President Adama Barrow over the weekend laid the foundation stone for the new Basse market.
Speaking at the event, President Barrow said: “Seven months ago, I was on this site to assess the devastation of the market as a result of a fire outbreak. It was heart-breaking to see the destruction and the extensive loss of goods and assets to market vendors. The loss was huge, noting that the market did not only serve the inhabitants of Basse, but also crowds from the surrounding villages, towns and the sub-region. Without hesitation, I promised that my Government would rebuild the entire market. I am grateful to the Almighty God, therefore, for enabling me to fulfill my promise.
It is said that “every cloud has a silver lining.” Hopefully, from the ruins of the old market will emerge a much better and modern market that every Gambian will be proud to visit. From this point of view, I am delighted to be here today to lay the foundation stone for the new Basse Main Market.
Unlike my last visit, this is a moment of hope, but not despair; it is an occasion of joy, but not sadness, and it is a day of thanksgiving, but not gloom.
The new Basse Market will be built to modern international standards and of high quality. It will accommodate one hundred and eighty (185) single shops, two (2) mini-markets, a shed for about thirty-five (35) women vegetable sellers, and another for twenty-five (25) fishmongers and butchers. In addition, a mosque, Market Manager’s Office, waste collection area and toilet facilities will be provided.
Noting the issue of floods and heavy downpours during the rainy season, the market will be paved, and an effective drainage system put in place.
I am happy to inform you, further, that the design of the new market allows for future expansion. Health and Safety issues have been factored in the design, and Fire hydrants and vehicular access routes have been designed to reduce the risk of fire disasters. Added to all these will be the installation of a safe electrical system to avoid dangerous electrical faults. We can now look forward to a first class international market in Basse.
The National Development Plan (NDP) is the blueprint that embodies my Government’s vision and priorities for national development. Building Social Infrastructure, such as markets, is one of the strategic priorities of the NDP. In this connection, the construction of the Basse Market will be a significant contribution towards the realisation of the goals of the NDP. The project is also a step towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (the SDGs). We will continue to be guided by the targets of the NDP and the SDGs.
The implementation of this important project has been entrusted to Honourable Bai Lamin Jobe, Minister of Transport, Works and Infrastructure and his staff. They have done a lot to make us reach this milestone today. As a result, I take this opportunity to commend all of them for their hard work.
The Design and Supervision of the Market was delegated to The Gambia Agency for the Management of Public Works (GAMWORKS). GAMWORKS is popular in The Gambia, and it has unparalleled experience in implementing projects for Government and regional administrative bodies in the country. It is an agency that has consistently demonstrated reliability and competence as an implementation partner of Government.
Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Agency responded promptly to Government’s invitation, and speedily carried out the necessary site studies, surveys, designs and other preparatory activities.
We thank the Director General of GAMWORKS and his team for their contribution to the project thus far, particularly for successfully launching a transparent national competitive bidding process to recruit the contractors for the project. GIGO Construction won Lot 1 of the works, and GAI Enterprise won Lot 2. I congratulate both of them. They are two well-known Gambian contractors who have successfully completed projects for the Government. We are hopeful that these contractors will deliver quality work in accordance with their terms of engagement.
It must be emphasized, however, that the need is very urgent for this busy settlement to have a functional market once again. I urge them, therefore, to complete the works ahead of schedule, if feasible.
I am glad and proud to state that the Basse Market Project is fully funded by the Government of The Gambia at an estimated cost of One Hundred Million Dalasis (D100 Million). We are all aware of the immense pressure on the country’s financial resources due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In view of this, I am compelled to publicly appreciate the efforts of the Minister and staff of the Finance and Economic Affairs Ministry for readily putting together sufficient funds for this project in these challenging times.
Basse Area Council, the Office of the Governor, the Alkalo of Basse and the market vendors have also been very cooperative. We will continue to rely on the collaboration of all stakeholders for the successful implementation of the Project.
As detailed out in the National Development Plan, my vision of the “new” Gambia is a country where the highest standards of good governance are upheld, citizens enjoy access to basic services and the enabling environment is created for the private sector to thrive. It is vividly evident that my Government has taken giant strides towards the achievement of these noble objectives, as witnessed by the construction of this important regional market.
At present, we have a number of similar major infrastructure projects in Basse and other parts of URR, including roads and bridges. By the Grace of God, many more projects will be brought to the communities of URR.
It is now my pleasure to declare the official commencement of the Construction of Basse Main Market, and I take delight in laying its foundation stone. We pray that the Almighty God grant us the ability to return here next year to inaugurate the new Basse Market, in peace, good health and harmony.