nourable Cabinet Members,
Honourable Members of the National Assembly,
Senior Government Officials,
Governor, North Bank Region,
District Chiefs, Alkalolu, Religious Leaders,
Consultants and Contractors
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Members of the Media,
It is indeed my pleasure and honour to be here today, to lay the foundation stone for the long-awaited Nuimi Hakalang Roads Project.
We all know that the lack of good and adequate road infrastructure in the rural area has contributed to the great disparities between rural and urban communities.
Today’s event, therefore, marks another significant milestone in the development endeavours of my Government. As stated in our National Development Plan, our goal is “to deliver good governance and accountability, social cohesion and national reconciliation, and a revitalized and transformed economy for the wellbeing of all Gambians.”
To this end, for the first time after many years of waiting, this Project will provide for the people in these areas, interlinked bituminous roads covering the length and breadth of the Nuimis, and connecting these districts to Jokadu.
Ladies and gentlemen, this project amply demonstrates my Government’s commitment to inclusiveness in The Gambia. With improved road networks, the search for better social facilities and employment opportunities in the urban area will be curtailed; thus, the creation of a growing business environment to improve the economic status of rural residents will become far easier to realise.
As a government, we have taken the critical decision to rebuild our economy and bring infrastructure development closer to the people.
To rebuild the economy, however, we must have access to good roads, uninterrupted electricity supply and technology to enhance the capacity of the people and their wellbeing.
Laying the foundation stone for the construction of the Hakalang road network is evidence of our strong will to ensure that no section of Gambian society is deprived of their rights to live dignified lives and have their equal share of the national cake. The desire of the Government is to minimise rural-urban migration, increase self-reliance and boost entrepreneurship, innovation and productivity, with agro-business production given due attention.
The residents of Nuimi are popular for their active engagement in gardening and horticulture. Good road networks within the area will ease travel and transportation of farm products to market points, as well as encourage businesses to get closer to the communities.
Ladies and gentlemen, development must be decentralised to reach every district and region of The Gambia, which is one of our goals. Accordingly, we will continue to encourage the young people in all hard-to-reach areas to participate actively in the development of their communities, and take pride in innovative work for self-development. It is the development of the people that makes national development a reality. Working together, therefore, we can attain this, while maintaining peace, stability and security in the country.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, when completed, the Nuimi Hakalang Road network will surely provide vital access to the Lower and Upper Nuimi Districts, which have a combined population of over seventy thousand (70,000) residents. In particular, the feeder roads will connect the communities of Juffureh, Albreda, Ker Mbuguma, Fass Omar Saho, Bafuloto and Kuntaya in the Jokadu District.
There is no doubt that the project will yield numerous economic and social benefits within the area, including the development of agriculture, fisheries and tourism, especially for the renowned tourist attraction sites in Jufurreh.
We expect, and with much optimism, that the proposed construction works will immediately trigger increased economic activities, such as agricultural production enterprises that include cashew farming and animal husbandry.
My Government has taken this big stride to ensure that the people of Hakalang are not, any longer, excluded from the national development process. The development of the roads in the area has been anticipated for more than five decades. Fulfilling this dream is certainly long overdue.
Most of the eleven towns and villages along the project road sites (namely, Buniadu, Aljamdu, Lamin, Kerr Cherno, Jufurreh, Albreda, Sika, Tubakolong, Sitanunku, Bafuloto and Kuntaya), have been isolated for far too long, due to poor access roads.
It is very well known, for instance, that a twenty-minute journey from Buniadu to Juffureh takes several hours, and under very difficult conditions, because of dilapidated roads. However, once the roads are completed as planned, there will be easy access to these communities, alongside other development opportunities and much easier access to farms, markets, schools, health facilities, hospitals and fish landing sites, to cite a few examples.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, the total length of the roads involved in the Project is 88 kilometres, divided into three components, that is:
The construction of Buniadu to Kuntaya;
Construction of Ker Mbuguma through Medina to Bafuloto; and,
Construction of Albreda to Fass Omar Saho.
I take this opportunity to register my immense appreciation to the people of this region for their patience, support and cooperation in making this project a reality.
A local proverb teaches that ‘when someone is washing your back for you, the least you can do is to pour water over it.’ Our development partners are supporting our progress; so, we have to take ownership of our development process, and commit ourselves to meeting our obligations in our best interest. To put it bluntly, we must learn to be self-reliant and independent. There is more honour and dignity in striving to feed oneself than in begging or being fed.
At this juncture, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I must mention that the Hakalang project is fully funded by my Government; therefore, for completing all the necessary arrangements, I thank the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure, the National Roads Authority and, most notably, the Honourable National Assembly Members who were at the forefront of the deliberations to allocate the necessary funding for the Project.
With gratitude, I recognise the presence of the consultant, PACE and GAMECS, and the contractor, CSE. I wish both teams successful execution of their respective duties.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, the ultimate success of this important project depends on the collaboration of all the parties involved in it, which include the contractor, consultants, the client Ministries, the work force and the host communities of Nuimi. I implore all the communities along the project roads to be the best of hosts for the successful implementation of the project.
Finally, I take this opportunity to thank everyone present at this foundation stone laying ceremony. I assure you all of my appreciation of your support for my Government and for this Project.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it now gives me great pride to formally lay the foundation stone for the commencement of the Nuimi Hakalang Roads Construction Project.
I thank you for your attention.