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Works minister on Mandinaba-Soma highway

Apr 6, 2010, 4:25 PM | Article By: Alieu Jabang & Sainey M.K. Marenah

In his first appearance before deputies at the National Assembly as Minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure, Dr. Njogu Bah last Wednesday disclosed that government has spent over US$23 Million on the construction of Mandinaba-Soma highway.

The Works, Construction and Infrastructure Minister, who was responding to a question as to how much money was involved in the construction of the Mandinaba-Soma highway by Hon Babanding K.K. Daffeh, the member for Kiang Central, said "works at the site is currently on and not suspended."

Also responding to a question as to how much money is owed to the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority by debtors, both trade and ex-staff loans, Minister Bah said the amount owed to Civil Aviation as at end December 2009 stood at D143, 092.826.21 and D1, 137.044.52, respectively.

Earlier on the same day, Fatou Lamin Faye, the Minister of Basic and Secondary Education blamed the breakdown of Mayork Senior Secondary School bus on what she referred to as the principal's negligence of not taking advice at the handing over of the bus.

She was answering to a question raised by Honourable Matarr Kujabi Member for Foni Bondali as to what is holding the Mayork Senior Secondary School bus from its services.

According to her, the breakdown of the Mayork Senior Secondary School Bus was brought to the notice of the authorities at the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education barely two weeks after the buses were delivered to the schools at the July 22nd Square.

"This breakdown, which was later confirmed, happened as a result of the principal's negligence to advice given when the buses were being handed over," she said.

The Basic and Secondary Education Minister also drew to the attention of members that at the time of delivery, all principals were advised to take the buses to a trained mechanic for maintenance, of which GTTI happens to have, but the principal instead opted for a local mechanic.

"Notwithstanding this, my Ministry immediately made efforts to tow the bus to GTTI for maintenance and GTTI was requested to assess the extent of the breakdown and submit a bill to the Ministry," she added.

She further stated that a bill of D 91, 000 was submitted and the school was only asked to pay D41, 000, while the Ministry settled the balance of  D50, 000.

While at GTTI, she added, continued efforts were made by the personnel of the services unit of the Ministry to monitor the progress made in the maintenance of the bus.

"It was not until 3rd of February 2010 that the head of the garage at GTTI informed the Ministry that the bus was being tested and would be delivered on 5th February 2010," she stated. He said the delivery had never happened, due to a problem with the relay switch, which he added, was not available locally but had to be ordered.

Also on the same day, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare Dr. Abubakarr Gaye informed deputies at the National Assembly in Banjul that there is no embargo on the issuing of licence to operate a pharmacy.

However, he added that there is an embargo on issuing of licence to operate drugs stores (Class B) and multipurpose shops (Class C) in the interest of the public.                   

Dr. Gaye was responding to a question posed by Hon Baboucarr S. Nyang of Banjul as to why the embargo on pharmacies is causing serious problem to the health sector, and when will the embargo be lifted?

According to Dr. Gaye, with regard to the "hold up" to operate drug stories (Class B), the reason for that was not only due to the high attrition rate of nurses from the health sector, but also the mushrooming of quack and callous of so-called medical personnel who were engaged in what he described as inhumane businesses.

"I have now personally decided to lift this ban, based on specific conditions in relation to qualification, credibility, integrity and the ability to keep records for data compilation," he said. This, the Health Minister added "will soon be operational as we are working on the modalities with the medicine board and this would also be in line with the best practices within the profession."