Feb 4, 2009, 7:46 AM
The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Mr Musa Gibril Bala Gaye has described the Westfield Sukuta Road as the brainchild of President Yahya Jammeh.
He made these remarks yesterday at the Paradise Suites Hotel during a start-up workshop organised by the Gambian Agency for the Management of Public Works (GAMWORKS) for stakeholders and beneficiaries to discuss the implementation schedule, status of the works and challenges and constraints on the reconstruction of the Westfield-Sukuta Road.
According to him, President Jammeh has taken a keen interest in the Westfield-Sukuta Road Project, hence it can be considered to be his brainchild. "His Excellency has taken a keen interest in the development of the designs for the road and he at the outset insisted that the road design should have drains, sidewalks and street lighting.
He added that the infrastructural development of the country is a cornerstone of Vision 20/20, one of the pillars of our Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and one of the key priorities President Yahya Jammeh.
The project, he disclosed, was initially funded under the Trade Gateway Project under the Gambia Investment Promotion and Free Zones Agency(GIPFZA).
However, there were not enough funds available under the Trade Gateway Project to implement the civil works, he explained.
He said: "I therefore contacted the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) for possible co-financing of the project. When the IDB came for an appraisal mission in June 2007, they not only expressed their keen interest in the project, but proposed to fund the whole of the civil works instead of co-financing with the World Bank. I accepted this proposal and this led to the signing of the US$7.705 million loan agreement between IDB and the Government of The Gambia in November 2007. As part of the loan agreement the Government of The Gambia is putting in US$867,000 as counterpart funding, giving a total project size of US$8.572million. The loan agreement was quickly ratified by the National Assembly on 5th December 2007, which was followed by the signing of the Instrument of Ratification by the President on 4th February 2008. The Government of The Gambia having met all the conditions, the loan was declared effective on March 2008."
In the meantime, the Consultant, Arab Consulting Engineers (ACE) of Egypt in association with Cityscape Associates of The Gambia, have completed the design studies.
Mr Gaye added: "The negotiations were successful and the contractor's price was reduced to US$l0million, but there was still a funding gap of US$3million. Fortunately during the IDB Annual Meeting held in Jeddah in June of last year, I discussed and agreed with the Bank that the funding gap will be financed as follows: Firstly, the contingency sum in the loan agreement will be transferred to the civil works category. Secondly, IDB will give an additional 20% of the original loan amount as supplementary financing. This will yield an additional US$1,541,000. And thirdly the Government of The Gambia will provide an additional counterpart contribution of US$595,676 to fund the remaining deficit."
With the additional funds, he said, the total IDB financing now stands at US$9.l97million and Gambia Government counterpart contribution has risen to US$1 .463million, giving a total project size of US$10.66O million.
The project, according to him, complements the recent investments made by Government in the upgrading of the Westfield - Mandinaba and Kombo Coastal Roads in linking the major cities and towns in the Kombo Area.
In his welcoming address, the Director General of GAMWORKS Ebrima Cham revealed that the project costs over D204million dalasis.
The project, he added, is a clear commitment of the government to improving the country's infrastructure. He thanked all the stakeholders for their support.