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Celebrating Two Decades of Collaboration: Ostend-Banjul City Link Reaches 20-Year Milestone

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Rohey Malick, Mayor of Banjul & Bart Tommelein, Mayor of Ostend

By Fatou Sillah 

For two decades, the Banjul City Council in The Gambia and the City of Ostend in Belgium have fostered a remarkable partnership, grounded in mutual respect and a shared vision for progress. This year marks the 20th anniversary of this impactful alliance, celebrated with a series of events highlighting its achievements and ongoing projects.

Supported by the European Union, ongoing projects in Banjul have been showcased, reflecting the commitment to building resilience in the capital of The Gambia.

Funded by the EU, the project aims to enhance the future resilience of Banjul by strengthening urban governance. The focus lies on capacity-building and change management programs for the political and administrative levels of the Banjul City Council. The strategic efforts aspire to improve public service delivery, stimulate economic growth and innovation, and create a sustainable and pleasant environment for residents.

Mayor Rohey Malick Lowe expressed gratitude at the ceremony for the transformative contributions of the EU-funded project, emphasizing the positive impact on institutions such as the Crab Island school.

“The Ostend sister relationship, this twining, has helped Banjulians a lot. Everybody has seen what is going on at the Crab Island school. It’s transformed totally, that anybody who has been to that school will come back to us and say bravo. Indeed, we are so proud of 23 classrooms, a recording studio, an FM radio, a garden, and the greening of the city. The coconuts are not an easy task and do not come out from a vacuum. It is the commitment that brought it to where it is,” she said.

Mayor Bart Tommelein of Ostend highlighted the uniqueness of a two-decade-long relationship between cities and the meaningful exchanges that have taken place, including those between schools and healthcare institutions.

“Twenty years during which schools in Banjul and Ostend have exchanged with each other and fostered meaningful relationships between students. Twenty years during which the two administrations worked together and where exchange visits took place in both directions. Twenty years during which a genuine relationship was developed between the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital and Higher Education institutions in Ostend. Twenty years during which we developed mutual trust and understanding in each other,” he said.

Mustapha Batchilly, CEO of the Banjul City Council, provided a brief history of the partnership, emphasizing its establishment on the principles of mutuality, communication, and mutual respect. The 20-year journey has seen significant achievements and mutual understanding between the cities, creating a strong foundation for continued collaboration.

“I recall when it was been established. If I am not mistaken, I think Councilor Ousman Jobe was part of the delegation that went to Ostend for the initial signing of the charter. Eventually, they returned to the Gambia, another signing ceremony took place in Banjul. This relationship is a very important one, because it was created based on mutuality, based on commutation with all the parties, and it was also based on mutual respect. And I think everybody will agree with me where all these virtues do exist it will be very difficult not achieve something,” he said.

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