By Ramatoulie Jawo
Yankuba Dibba, the Chief Executive Officer of the OIC Secretariat in the Gambia, has confirmed in an interview with Kerr Fatou that the new hotel under construction will not be completed in time for the OIC Summit in December 2023.
“The hotel will not be ready. Let me also say that the hotel project is unique and different from all the other OIC projects. Because we couldn’t get funding for that, we had to take a different approach. We had what is called PPP. Is an arrangement where the government comes in partnership with a private concessionaire.
“So a concession agreement was reached. And that concession agreement can only become operational if certain conditions precedent on both sides. So there were several conditions precedent on the side of the government and some on the side of the concessionaire. So these are the preliminary things that must be satisfied before the agreement becomes operational,” he told Kerr Fatou.
Mr. Dibba made these statements on Thursday in an interview with Fatou Touray on the Kerr Fatou show. He said despite the fact the hotel would not be ready before the summit, that does not mean the project cannot be started; that is why they have the launch.
He added that certain precedents were mitigating against the normal plan of the implementation.
“One of the precedent conditions is that the concessionaire must produce a management agreement from a global brand. In this case is Radisson. So this concession agreement has been signed, but it took some time to sign. There were certain things also that are contingent on the part of the government, which were also ongoing. But as I said, that was not to stop the construction process. But Radisson have their own rules. Anywhere where their brand is going to be applied, they take interest, and not only interest, but they are part and parcel of the planning process. Even the color of your curtains, the mixture of the cement, the way the design is done, and everything. They have their own team of specialists that have to okay everything, and it has to be in line with the ISO (the International) standards. So that also is part of the issues that delayed us,” he said.
Mr. Dibba said Radisson was in principle involved in the whole exercise from the beginning, but before their Board of Directors would sign onto the final management contract, they had to do a lot of things.
“I was invited in June to Nairobi to witness that signing. Actually, in June of this year, if you just Google Radisson, you will see that Gambia is part of their portfolios. So it has been signed and as I am talking to you right now, all the art works have been done. Because a huge chunk of the preparation for the building of the hotel also involves artwork. In fact, the artwork has been completed, now the batching plant is on the ground, brand new. The concrete work is currently ongoing. The concessionaire has made arrangements to bring in a team from Turkey. They have been on the ground since August of last year. They are the ones that oversaw all that artwork. The Concessionaire actually took Golden Beach hotel and renovated it in anticipation for the workforce to come. So that is where the workforce will be based. So it is behind schedule, but there is no doubt that it will be done.” He said.