The Minister of Transport, Works and Infrastructure (MoTWI), Ebrima Sillah, has said six out of nine ongoing road construction projects have been awarded to local contractors, in order to promote Gambian engineers in the area of road construction.
Minister Sillah made this statement on Friday 9 February 2024, as his Ministry and partners commenced visits of some of the ongoing road construction projects within the North Bank and West Coast Regions. The team visited Numi Hakalang and Kerewan | Njawara road; and Lots 5, 8 and 9 within the West Coast Region. Minister Sillah said the Albreda and Juffreh Tenda road and the road leading to the family house of Kunta Kinteh, will be constructed.
“The purpose of our visit to all these sites is to first and foremost, have first-hand information and interact with both the communities, and to know how far the contractors have gone with the projects and the challenges they are encountering,” Sillah revealed.
Minister Sillah said he is optimistic that most of the projects visited will be completed before June 2024.
“Looking at the speed at which some of the projects are going, we are hopeful that most of them will be completed before June and they will be subsequently inaugurated, and we will also ensure that the qualities of these roads are not compromised,” he said.
Minister Sillah said the roads when completed will ease the movement of people and goods. “Infrastructural development is very important as it is easy to access. Some of these roads lead to business and historic sites,” he said.
The Chief of Jokadou District in the North Bank Region, Mr Alpha Khan, said those affected by the ongoing road projects within his district have received their compensations.
“I have not received any formal complaint from all those whose properties were demolished or those who lost part of their farmlands due to the ongoing road projects within my district, and this shows that all of them were compensated accordingly,” he disclosed.
According to the Chief, the Numi Hakalang road has connected a lot of villages that were not accessible.
“Despite the construction of the said road is not yet complete, it still eases the movement of people and agricultural products to the highway, and it has also helped farmers to easily transport their groundnuts from their farmlands to the ‘Seccos’ or buying points,” he added.
He said they still have some feeder roads that are not part of the on-going projects and they want them to be considered by the government as they serve as major connectors for some other remote villages leading to the highway.
Gibril Loum, the CSE project manager and contractor, said the project awarded to him has employed one hundred and fifty staff, out of which one hundred and twenty are Gambians.
“We are not here to only construct roads, get our pay and go home, but we want to train Gambian youth in the area of road construction engineering,” he said.
Mrs Marie Senghor, one of the Gambian engineers who have been awarded a road construction project in the North Bank region, said as a woman she had thought it would be difficult for her to win at least one of the projects.
“I applied like all other engineers and was able to secure the project, and the government has given me the opportunity to showcase what I have learned as an engineer,” she said.
The Gunjur Beach road that leads to fish landing sites in Gungur village is also under construction.
FalaloTouray, the Chief of Kombo South, said Gunjur has the biggest fish landing site but business within the area has drastically dropped because of the bad condition of the road.
“When the construction of this road commenced, we have seen people frequently plying the road to the beach, and this shows that when the work is complete, it will boost economic activities within the area,” he said.
He said there are still some feeder roads within Kombo South that connect to the main highway, but they are not among those roads under construction, calling on the government to consider them urgently.