EC gives to Gambia government
Monday, April 06, 2009
The European Commission, last Thursday, made a presentation of materials worth over 17 million dalasi to The Gambia government, at a ceremony presided over by the Gambian leader, Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh. The materials include a total of ten vehicles, a generator, and an assortment of IT equipment, office furniture and road data collection equipment.
Accordingly, the gesture which is part of the capacity building component of the financing agreement signed by The Gambia government and the European Commission in November 2005 is meant to support the country's national transport plan. The direct beneficiary of the donation is the National Road Authority. Receiving the donated items on behalf of the National Road Authority, President Jammeh commended the European Commission through its Charge d'Affaires in The Gambia for such a wonderful gesture. He described it as one typical of the assistance from the European Commission.
The Gambian leader went on to underscore the significance of having a good road network, pointing out that the development of the road infrastructure sector, particularly in the rural areas, is something that had occupied his heart long before assuming the mantle of leadership of the country. To this end, President Jammeh saluted the current EC Charge d'Affaires in The Gambia, for being an examplary diplomat and for her sense of objectivity.
"I will thank you because this is the first time in the history of this country we are having such a high volume of assistance from the European Union - from Independence to date," he said. While emphasising The Gambia's interest in a relationship that is based on mutual respect and understanding, the president described the country as a peace loving nation which yearns for peace and love with the rest of humanity, irrespective of differences.
"We are one of the smallest countries, but we are also one of the proudest in the whole world. Gambians are very genuine and grateful people, and that is why the country is known for its hospitality," said the president, while expressing his government's gratitude to the European Commission. President Jammeh also implored on officials of the National Road Authority to ensure the sustenance of the donated items, pointing out that the vehicles should serve a maximum duration of five years. The EC, he said, has done its bid in assisting us, and that the ball now lies in our court as the beneficiaries. According to him, the items donated are as good as they are handled with care, but they are also as bad as they are mishandled. Commending the National Road Authority for its good track record, President Jammeh warned them against complacency. He assured the EC of his government's resolve to live up to its responsibilities and obligations.
The European Commission Charge d'Affaires to The Gambia, Madam Helene Cave, described President Jammeh's presence at the handing over ceremony as a clear manifestation of the importance he attaches to EC-Gambia government's cooperation. This EC-funded project, she said, is close to the president's heart, taking into consideration President Jammeh's untiring commitment to improve the livelihoods of his citizens.
According to Madam Cave, the expected results of the project include the improvement of the conditions of more than half of the paved trunk road network of The Gambia, including Barra to Ambadallai, Mandinaba to Seleti (in Senegal), Soma to Basse, Basse to Wellingara (in Senegal), and the Trans-Gambia Highway. Assistance in the establishment of a fully operational National Road Authority, as well as an operational, dedicated Road Fund for the implementation of road maintenance in a sustainable manner form another expected results of the project. Also anticipated by the end of the project is the establishment of a plan for transport facilitation measures to enable The Gambia road sector to optimally serve actual and future transport demand, including transit and international traffic.
The European Commission Charge d'Affaires used the occasion to express EC's commitment to assist The Gambia in its constant efforts to enhance sustainable economic development and its support to accompany President Jammeh's endeavour in improving the livelihood of Gambians.
The secretary of state for Works, Construction and Infrastructure, Lamin Bojang, described the occasion as another milestone in the long standing co-operation between The Gambia and the European Commission, particularly in the transport sector. He noted that the financing agreement signed by the EC and The Gambia also involves a long-term technical assistance to the National Road Authority with the overall objective of enabling the authority to effectively and efficiently manage the country's road network. According to SoS Bojang, the government of The Gambia has made heavy investment on its road infrastructure in the past 15 years. Being aware of this, he said, the government saw the need to create a body to be responsible for the administration, maintenance and management of the entire road network.
"Consequently, in line with the National Transport Policy and the special conditions of the Financing Agreement signed by The Gambia government and the EC, the National Roads Authority was created through an Act of Parliament in 2003, " he stated, adding that the authority commenced operation in October 2006, and that since then it has steadily grown in capacity.
SoS Bojang informed stakeholders at the ceremony that the NRA is in the process of classifying the entire road network and that it will soon embark on a network-wide inventory of the entire road network to capture all features of the road network. The Works and Infrastructure secretary of state went on to express profound gratitude and appreciation to the European Union for a timely intervention in the road sector. Buttressing previous speakers' point, the secretary of state for Finance and Economic Affairs, Dr Musa Gibril Bala Gaye, agreed that the objective of this support from the EC which is the second component of the 9th EDF financing agreement, is to build the institutional capacity of The Gambia to better deal with issues related to increased use of its transport infrastructure by international traffic as a coherent part of a wider institutional capacity building support.
Dr Bala Gaye harped on The Gambia government's huge investment in improving the country's road network in recent years, maintaining that it is geared towards alleviating poverty and sustaining economic growth. "It is evident that good and well maintained roads significantly contribute to reduced transport cost, reduced prices for basic commodities and it opens up business opportunities for commercial economic operators and farmers," SoS Gaye said.
Present at the occasion were the vice president and secretary of state for Women's Affairs, Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, secretaries of state and a cross section of the diplomatic community.
Author: by Hatab Fadera