Rohey Malick Lowe, mayoress of Banjul City Council (BCC) has called on the National Assembly Members (NAMs) to amend the Local Government Act in order to empower the mayors and chairpersons across the country.
“I am appealing to the National Assembly Members for the sake of God to stand for the Local Government and amend the laws to ensure the mayors and councilors have powers,” she told Star FM wake-up morning show recently.
Section 15 (1) of the Local Government Act states that a chairperson of area council are responsible for (a) presiding at council meetings; (b) supervise the general administration of the area; and (c) perform such other functions as may be imposed on the chairperson by this or any other enactment that may be necessary for the efficient conduct of the business or a Council.
Section 15 (2) states that the chairperson shall be answerable to the Council in the performance of his or her functions and shall uphold the Constitution, the councils’ by-laws and the laws of The Gambia, while 15 (3) states that the chairperson shall submit to the Council an annual report on the state of affairs of his or her Local Government Area.
However, Mayoress Lowe said the Chief Executive Officers (CEO) of councils are more powerful than the mayors and chairpersons. She justified that the CEOs are appointed and backed by the Ministry of Lands and Local Government, which is working directly under the president and added that for her, she is under an opposition political party.
“Sometime people will tell me take action but I will tell the mayors are powerless,” she expressed.
Mayor Lowe further argued: “We have been crying for this (amendment of the Local Government Act severally). Even recently, my colleague said the same thing in his interview. But anytime the deputies are amending something in the laws they often do it on their own interest.”
She expressed gratitude to Hon. Alhagie Jawara, National Assembly Member for Central Badibou for “sponsoring a private bill in the parliament to get what his wishes,” she said.
“We have said everything for them to amend the act but they refused. Anytime they are amending laws they only amend theirs while forgetting the Local Government is very important,” she reiterated.