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Survey reveals most Gambians unhappy with progress of public sector reforms

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By Alagie Manneh

A large majority of Gambians have voiced their dissatisfaction of the progress, or lack thereof, of public sector reforms in a survey released by Afrobarometer last Friday.

“More than half of Gambians say they are not satisfied with the pace of public sector reforms initiated by the government in 2017 as a way of reorganising the public service; Survey respondents continue to highlight problems with public services, including having to pay bribes. A majority of citizens give the government negative ratings on its performance in public service delivery,” the survey highlighted.

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After the fall of Jammeh in 2016, the government of Adama Barrow launched numerous reform programmes such as the security-sector and civil-service reforms to usher in a true democracy, reconciliation, and peace-building.

But seven years on, most Gambians remain disgruntled with the pace of the reform programmes.

“Only one-third (34%) say they are satisfied. Dissatisfaction is more widespread among the best-educated citizens (60%), the wealthiest (57%), and men (55%) than among their respective counterparts,” Afrobarometer found.

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The survey added that “almost a quarter (24%) of citizens who sought police assistance during the previous year say they had to pay a bribe. Fewer report having to pay a bribe to obtain identity documents (13%), medical care (9%), and public school services (5%). Large majorities say the government is doing a poor job of delivering public services such as improving basic health care (79%), water and sanitation (69%), electricity (69%), road and bridge maintenance (68%), and education (67%).

Afrobarometer Project Director for the Center for Policy, Research and Strategic Studies, Sait Matty Jaw, said the survey is an eye-opener for government and other stakeholders about how people are feeling about specific issues underpinning them.

“Today, if you look at public service delivery, everyone is complaining. You look at the ferry services for instance, no one is happy. You look at civil service reform, we are not even sure whether there is a civil service reform. So, we wanted to bring this survey so that we can also contribute to the debate and give the government feedback of what people are thinking about the various reform agendas that they have set up,” he told The Standard. 

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