Minister Jobe advises Banjul Mayoral candidates

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

To all those candidates wanting to be mayor of Banjul, this is my take on the mayorship, as a Banjulian. The mayor is the “manager” of the city, a job at the moment that requires, above all, a vision for change. Change in turn requires resources, the raising and dispensing of which require the acumen of an entrepreneur, and makes running the city the same as running a business.

So what could be a business model for Banjul? So far, the city has always been in the transit trade, and a logical vision is to become a major player in this respect. This will have to include being both a commercial and a financial center, covering the inland river ports, Senegal, the West African region, and possibly beyond, supported by robust infrastructure and financial services.

To be more specific, a good mayor of Banjul would first give the city a facelift. Except perhaps leaving Albert Market and the ferry terminal at their present locations, and modernizing them, all other buildings and structures to the left of Wellington Street, he or she should consider razing to the ground, to give the city a marine broadwalk, lined by trees and benches, and opened to the sea. This will bring sense of space to the clustered city. 

Next, the mayor should consider reclaiming the “tanne” or bund polder, to provide the Port Authority with container and truck yards and warehouses, also space for more offices and commercial buildings of related services. Perhaps the owners of the demolished properties along Wellington Street could be compensated with land in this area. Rehabilitation of the bund polder should include the city drainage network, which includes the main earth ring drain in the tanne, and Bokis pumping station.

Also, the mayor should be bold enough to review all existing properties in Banjul, whether commercial or residential, from the point of view of the city’s development. All delinquent and absentee property owners should be engaged to develop or sell their properties, otherwise city ordinances should allow the council to sell properties to settle tax arrears. As we all know, owners of properties in Banjul lack interest in the development of their properties, because of the multiple ownership of such properties. The council should approach the owners on this issue and together come up with a plan of removing the impasse. 

Lastly, If the mayor can provide a well run city, with adequate infrastructure and services, the city will attract considerable number of trade related businesses, and more importantly, the mayor will be in position to raise the necessary revenues or even float municipal bonds, not only nationally but regionally, to meet recurrent operational needs and for further development.

Let the best person wins, to make into good use of the considerable goodwill for Banjul, at home and abroad.

Bai Lamin Jobe
Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure