By Tabora Bojang
The Chinese-funded roads and bridges project in the Upper River Region is now completed. The projects include 47km of asphalt road extending from Basse to Koina through Fatoto.
There is also a 250m long bridge linking Basse to Wuli and another 170m long bridge at Fatoto as well as the Chamoi and Suduwol bridges.
The road is designed with a concrete pavement structure and design speed of 60km/h for highway and 40km in urban intersection.
All the works were contracted to Chinese-owned Long Jian Road and Bridge Company while consultancy was carried out by CCCC Highway Consultants Company and Beijing ZhongJia high and bridge supervision company.
Unveiling the projects Saturday, President Barrow described the occasion as the happiest moment of his presidency. He christened the 250m long Basse-Wuli bridge after local canoeist called Samba Juma, well known for transporting passengers across the water, including free transportation for school children. Those school children included President Barrow himself.
The president said the projects are just the beginning, explaining that coalition government he heads is mixture of pro- and anti-development minded individuals and that the ones who don’t want them to progress are the selfish ones who want to see him vacate office. “They are crooks and they have no love for the country. God does not help crooks and come on December 4th the wolves will be separated from the sheep and Gambia will be on a strong development trajectory when we will be having a government of like-minded individuals sharing the same vision and agenda,” Barrow said.
He said the occasion highlights the historic realization of the people’s dreams and the project marked a huge national infrastructural development and a major milestone in the implementation of the NDP.
“There is no doubt that this achievement will facilitate and promote the free movement of people, and goods and services. The project implies improvement of living standards and it also signifies increased economic activities and wider access to social services such as health and education,”
The Gambian leader also hailed the support of the Government of the People’s Republic of China for bankrolling the project, reiterating Gambia support of the one-China policy based on sincerity, mutual gain and good faith.
He disclosed that during his presidency, bilateral trade volumes between the two countries, have reached a whopping $570 million of which Gambia imported goods worth $540 million and exported goods worth $30 million.
In a rare move, a visibly excited President Barrow took to the wheels himself and drove across the new bridge.
The Minister of Works and Construction, Bai Lamin Jobe said contrary to wide held social media claims, the project started as a campaign promise in 2016 by President Barrow when he discovered that the worst roads and most difficult communities to reach were in his own back yard.
“So when he became president, his first move was to place infrastructure development top on his development agenda and URR to be given priority,” Jobe stated, adding that it is the fastest implemented infrastructural project in the country ever, based on scope, project amount and complexity.
An economic and commercial counselor at the Chinese Embassy who represented Ambassador Ma Jianchun, said China is willing to support the Gambia’s development to realize mutually beneficial results and common prosperity.
“We believe that these are the bridges of friendship to assist the Gambia to achieve economic and social development. These are the roads towards a happy life to realize the common development of the people of China and The Gambia,” he said
URR governor Samba Bah, Basse alkalo Sellou Bah and chief Hamma Krubually, all hailed President Barrow for bringing development to their door steps which were neglected by the previous regimes.