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Is The Gambia Ready To Host The OIC Summit? – By DA Jawo

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Demba Ali Jawo, Former Minister of Communications and Information Technology

By D. A. Jawo

There is absolutely no doubt that the local OIC Secretariat has made quite a lot of progress in getting the Gambia ready to host the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), slated to be held here on the 4 and 5 May, 2024, but have they really got what it takes to deliver a successful summit?
Considering the fact that it is now less than one month to go before the scheduled date of the summit, and looking at what is still left to be done, especially on the Bertil Harding Highway, one would not fail to see that quite a lot is still left to make that road the show-piece that it is supposed to be. Apart from the questions being asked about the suitability for purpose of its design, one would also question whether the time left for the start of the summit is enough to accomplish all the finishing touches to the project as well as all the other services needed to host a successful summit. One would not fail to see that there is still quite a lot of work that needs to be accomplished, especially when one drives on that road. It is even more dangerous to drive on it at night as most of the place is so dark and there is hardly any indication of the edges of the road, coupled with the fact that it has not yet been marked with white lines to delineate the lanes. Also, approaching the round-abouts, especially at night could be risky as it is not easy to see them from a distance, due mainly to the fact that the place is dark and they have not yet been painted with reflectors to show motorists of their existence.
Of course there are lights in some parts of the road, but they are definitely not quite bright enough to illuminate the place for motorists to clearly see a comfortable distance.
Also, apart from the complaints of the long distances between exit points, many people are also wondering when and where, if ever, they would put up foot bridges for pedestrians to cross from one side of the highway to the other and there is no indication anywhere that it is part of the design. There is absolutely no doubt that such a facility is a must on such a highway, but is it really possible that it can be done in less than a month to the summit?
Another area of concern to some people, particularly with regards to the safety of motorists and the important guests expected to attend the summit is the prevalence of stray animals, such as cattle and other domestic ruminants cross-crossing the highway. One would wonder how much efforts have been made by the OIC Secretariat to curb that possible menace.
As regards accommodation for the monarchs and heads of state expected to attend the summit, we have been assured by the CEO of the OIC Secretariat that adequate arrangements have been made to that effect. This is after they had abandoned their much hyped plan to construct a five star hotel to cater for the guests of the summit. One would wonder what had gone wrong with that plan after all the noise they made about it, heaping so much praises on the Senegalese entrepreneur who was supposed to pre-finance the project, only to hear about him being in court with someone he accused of duping him of huge sums of money after agreeing to get married to him.
It is of course in the interest of the whole nation that the summit goes ahead. Therefore, we should all wish and pray for its success

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