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Rejoinder: Works Minister Says Chinese Gov’t Is Responsible For Maintenance Of Samba-Juma Bridge For 2 years  

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Hon. Ebrima Sillah, Minister of Transport, Work and Infrastructure.

By Fatou Sillah

In a previous publication, we published an article with the headline “Works Minister Says Samba-Juma Bridge Toll Belongs to China For 2 years”. This was an error as the comments don’t accurately represent the words of the Minister of Transport, Works, and Infrastructure, Hon. Ebrima Sillah.

What he actually said was the Gambia Government had an agreement with the Government of the People’s Republic of China to maintain the Samba-Juma Bridge in Upper River Region for a period of two years post construction, after which he said the bridge will be handed over to the Government of the Gambia. This, he said, is what is referred to as the “Default Liability period” and that period will end in December 2023. He didn’t say the bridge belongs to the People’s Republic of China.

The error is regretted. We apologise to the Minister, the Government, and our entire followers for the misquote.

Below is the translation from Mandinka [the dialect he spoke in at the meeting] of what the minister said:

“This bridge [Samba Juma Bridge}, came about when president Adama Barrow took a trip to China to seek funding for construction.  He was able to secure the funding for it on that trip.  However, to secure the financing for construction, an agreement between President Barrow and the Chinese government was reached. This agreement states that post construction, the bridge will remain in the hands of the Chinese government for two years for maintenance. This period is called ‘Default Liability period’.  After those two years, the Chinese Government will hand over the bridge maintenance to the government of the Gambia. 

“Presently and under this agreement, all maintenance of the bridge is undertaken by the Chinese Government. The bridge was given to president Adama Barrow in 2021. Therefore, the two-year Default Liability Period will end in December 2023. The Government of China will hand over the bridge and its maintenance to the Gambia government after this two-year period. Post-handover, the Gambia government will be responsible for the maintenance of the bridge,” the minister of works said at a meeting in Koli Bantang village, Sandu Constituency.

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