By: Lamin Njie
Assistant Information Officer
Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure
The Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure (MoTWI), on Wednesday, 14th October, 2020 held its fifth steering committee meeting on the construction of the Basse/Fatoto road and bridges project currently ongoing in the Upper River Region of the country.
The meeting, which was held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Center in Bijilo, brought together stakeholders from The Chinese Embassy, GAMTEL, NAWEC, The National Roads Authority-NRA, Ministry of Lands and The Ministry of Finance, to discuss the progress of work, challenges and the way forward of the project.
Speaking at the event, Honorable Bai Lamin Jobe, The Minister of Transport, Works and Infrastructure stated that the ongoing works at the project in the Upper River Region of the country is satisfactorily on course, and therefore, called on all stakeholders to work together as a team, in order to successfully complete the project on time.
“By next month, the Basse bridge will be closed and that of Fatoto will be closed by February next year 2021. So, I think that itself is a progress. The president was assured that during his tour in November, he might use one of the bridges at least. So, this is a challenge in the light of the fact that there are still some outstanding works that needs to be done,” he said.
Minister Jobe, therefore, called on the contractor and the consultant to put all hands-on deck and deal with those issues amicably, as well as before the expected deadline of completion of work, which is around August, 2021.
“I know that the progress is going on, but there are serious challenges, thus the need to support the project team. Whatever we can do we will do, so as to meet the deadline of August, 2021,” he added.
The Minister further told the meeting he had received reports from the Project Implementation Unit-PIU, which highlighted some bottlenecks affecting the progress of work such as the demolition of houses, relocation of GAMTEL pipes, bringing of equipment into the country through Senegal, compensation of property owners and NAWEC high tension cablesamong other issues affecting the project which, he stated must be addressed soon.
On his part, Ma JianChun, Chinese Ambassador to The Gambia, said that apart from the road and bridges under construction in the Upper River Region of the country, cited The Sir Dawda Kairaba International Conference Center as another example of the good relationship between Beijing and Banjul.
He further stated that the completion of the road and bridges construction in the Upper River Region of The Gambia, will accomplish the “Last Mile” of the national highway network of The Gambia.
At the end of the meeting, all the stakeholders promised to work together with the contractor in order to see how best they could overcome the bottlenecks, that are hindering the progress of work, so as to meet the deadline of August, 2021 as the expected time of completion of work.
At the meeting, the different stakeholders also did presentations as to how far their work progress was in relation to the project.
The project, when completed, is expected to boost economic activities in the region as well as connecting Basse with the sub-region and beyond.
It could be recalled that the URR Road and Bridges project is a grant from the government of the People’s Republic of China in the tune of $82 million and it consist of a 51kiometers road, two big bridges, one in Basse and the other one in Fatoto, while two small bridges are also currently under construction in Suduwol and Chamoi.
Mod K. Ceesay, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure, chaired the meeting.