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GDC Voices Opposition To Government’s Africa50 Deal For Senegambia Bridge

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Hon. Mama Kandeh, Party Leader and Secretary General of the GDC

By Buba Gagigo

The Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) has disapproved of the Gambia Government’s Asset Recycling Agreement with Africa50 for the Senegambia Bridge and calls for a renegotiation of the contract.

“The Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) strongly advises the Gambia Government to revisit the asset recycling agreement with Africa50 for the Senegambia Bridge. The Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) party wishes to express its vehement opposition and deep concern regarding the government’s recent decision to go into an asset recycling arrangement of the Senegambia bridge with Africa50, entailing a sum of 100 million dollars over a period of 25 years, or a target IIR for investors of 15%, whichever comes first,” they said.

The Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) has said that it is a responsible political party that feels it is necessary to bring to light the flaws and drawbacks of the agreement, which they say have grave implications for the Gambian economy and the welfare of the citizens.

The GDC is also deeply concerned about the long-term financial implications that the arrangement will impose on the Gambian economy.

“The terms of the agreement indicate an unfavorable financial return for the government, especially when compared to the potential benefits of the bridge if operated and managed by the government itself. By mortgaging the bridge, the government is depriving itself of a significant revenue stream that could be utilized for the nation’s development and the improvement of essential services.

“Contrary to the government’s justifications for pursuing this deal, it is important to note that the bridge has the potential to generate substantial revenue if operated and managed by the government. Therefore, the decision to mortgage it seems unnecessary and counterproductive to the best interests of our nation. Equally concerning are the government’s contradictory actions, such as the recent establishment of a Ministry of Digital Economy aimed at modernizing and digitalizing the country’s economic system. It is perplexing that while the government claims to prioritize digitalization, it has chosen to relinquish control of a critical infrastructure like the Senegambia bridge to a private entity instead of managing it,” they said.

The Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) has expressed concern that allowing Africa50 to manage the Banjul Bridge would inevitably lead to increased toll fees, which would be inconvenient for drivers and other users of the bridge.

“The fear of a fare increment would impact negatively on the user and with strong conviction of leading to an increment in fares. The government’s decision fails to consider the potential challenges and disruptions that may arise when the bridge is operated by a third-party entity, potentially compromising the safety, efficiency, and overall experience of those utilizing this crucial transport link,” GDC said.

The opposition party believes that Gamtel and Gamcel would have been good candidates for asset recycling, as they have been struggling to survive for decades.

“On record, the Minister of Transport, Works, and Infrastructure has confirmed that the two bridges in the Upper River Region (URR), where the government spent huge amounts of money, were neglected by them. This shows the lack of seriousness in our public officials to be at speed in their task. The two bridges in Basse are so important to the development of the country,” GDC said.

GDC also urged the government to prioritize the use of CCTV cameras and a digitalized ticketing system.

“We believe since it began operation, it has been less effective. This will guarantee transparency and accountability in the operation of the bridge and will help reduce corruption and ensure that the benefits of the project reach the Gambian people as it should,” they said.

Furthermore, GDC called on the government to engage the National Assembly on such matters at all times. 

“The executive and the legislature must have a cordial working relationship to assess such an agreement on behalf of the Gambian people. In conclusion, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs agreeing to this deal is a loss to the nation. We believe the minister should have been more acquainted with the economic realities and committed the nation to agreements of great interest. The government should reconsider this decision, engage in transparent and accountable processes, and prioritize the long-term interests of the Gambian people,” they concluded.

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