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Feb 11, 2016, 10:22 AM | Article By: Kaddijatou Jawo

The National Roads Authority (NRA) yesterday presented its 2014 activity report before the joint session of the Public Accounts Committees and the Public Enterprises Committees (PAC/PEC) of the National Assembly.

Presenting the report before the joint session of the assembly committees, NRA Managing Director Momodou Senghore highlighted some of the issues the authority is engaged in, including the challenges, as well as work being implemented.

He said the National Roads Transport Policy was issued in May 2011 and validated by the Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure.

“This policy includes government commitments on poverty reduction and transportation, focusing on rural roads and heavy vehicle management.”

Concerning the latter issue, he added, the Government shows a strong will to tackle the axle load control issue, and rapidly apply relevant ECOWAS regulations.

“This will indeed have a crucial impact on the maintenance programme,” he said.

However, he stated, the financial means are not yet available.

Speaking to lawmakers, Mr Senghore further told them that some of the roads “are highly in need of maintenance if not construction”.

He said approximately 60 per cent of the classified feeder roads network had been brought up to engineering standard during the 1990s, with the UN and EU support.

“The current condition of the feeder road network is poor due to lack of maintenance, although some sections are still in good condition,” he told deputies.

“The feedback received from the Ministries of Health, Agriculture, Education and UN agencies indicated that the poor quality of the feeder roads limits the development of very poor rural areas, which cannot be reached all the year round,” he added.”

The 9th and 10th EDF programme support to Gambia National Transport Plan was conditioned to the creation of NRA and the Road Fund, he said.

It included Technical Assistance to the NRA (both technical and organisational) to start preparing efficient road management and maintenance, he added.

He also said the ROM missions in May 2011 and June 2011 and the final report from the technical assistant December 2010 provided the comments/recommendations.

“Human resources and technical knowledge at NRA are still weak and financial resources of the Roads Fund cannot cover the road maintenance needs,” the NRA official said.

MD Senghore further said a ‘Road User Charging Mechanism should be introduced’, adding that Government should provide funds for the removal of the maintenance backlog.

While ‘Axle Load Programme’ should be implemented, he remarked, training of NRA staff is also needed.

He said introducing labour-based methods and optimising road design to reduce maintenance inputs would assist and support NRA in its task of maintaining feeder roads, while ensuring ownership at local level.

The existing legislation allows for locally managed maintenance, he said.

The management of the NRA is expected go back to the National Assembly today for the consideration of their report.