Mobility in the Greater Banjul area has become a nightmare, as a result of a poor road network and the absence of critical feeders. One glimpse of hope could come from the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretariat in The Gambia. The office intends to take advantage of the infrastructural projects, born out of the coming Banjul 2022 summit, to build standard roads that could avail more options to commuters.
Nfally Fadera Head of brand and communication of the Gambia OIC Secretariat has told The Chronicle that, in addition to a dual carriage 50km from the airport and within the OIC concentrated areas, OIC intends to build 20 new roads across the Greater Banjul Area. One characteristic of the new project is that feeder roads will be an important component in order to minimize the volume of road traffic jams currently experienced in The Greater Banjul area.
The funding for the project is provided by the Saudi Fund for Development to a tune of $ 22.5 million. Queried about how trustworthy such a funding scheme could be, with experiences of mismanagement uncovered in some countries hosting summits before The Gambia, Nfally Fadera replied that the monies to finance the OIC project do not come in cash to land in the hands of OIC officials. He explained that the financing mechanism is driven by project implementation agencies. “Our office’s responsibility is to facilitate the project while other government institutions are the implanting agencies”, Mr Fadera explained.
The Gambia government is often blamed for generally choosing foreign companies as opposed to national preference in the procurement of national infrastructures projects. But the OIC Secretariat has decided that ‘’the roads project and other jobs will be joint ventures associating international companies and the Gambian local enterprises, in a very fair bidding process’’, according to the Secretariat’s Head of brand and communication.
“The Bertil Harding (Senegambia) Highway project has started and the OIC office is in the process of recruiting potential contractors. It is an open process in which Gambians contractors may apply. Already fifteen companies have expressed interest including Gambians’’ Nfally Fadera explained.
Undoubtedly, works to turn the Bertil Harding (Senegambia) highway, from its current state to a dual carriage, involve the destruction of many properties, the removal or displacement of assets and established businesses. This also implies an important and comprehensive compensation scheme for the individuals and entities that would be adversely affected by the dual carriage infrastructure.
Queried on what the OIC Gambia Secretariat intends to do about this, Mr Fadera disclosed that a site survey has been done to designate the space available along the road. He added that his office and other partners are currently working on an assessment exercise and evaluation of people’s properties adversely affected. Nfally Fadera assured that a process to estimate the property values has been catered for. “The people whose properties and assets may be affected will be compensated accordingly, after the due process the OIC Secretariat will engage”, he said.
About the deadline of work to be completed before the summit in 2022, Nfally Fadera said the OIC office has begun to implement plans to hire multiple contractors in order to fast-track the projects before the summit. He also cited other state and semi-public partners that are involved in the OIC projects. This includes Gamtel, NAWEC, Municipal Councils, NRA, Gambia Civil Aviation Authority etc.