Gambian opposition party – Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) has extended a helping hand to the flood victims of Kuntaur and surroundings which were hit by a devastating down pour of rain and river floods last week. Kuntaur a town of over 137 compounds was virtually taken over by floods from the river and residents had to be evacuated away from the floods.
According to reports from the UDP local member of Parliament Alhagi Sillah who was on Gainako Radio yesterday during a fundraising event said all but three homes were flooded in the town. Mr. Sillah reported that the town is devastated and needs urgent help. Asked what his office and the government were doing to help the people, Mr. Sillah said he has reached out to the commissioner who visited the area to assess the situation. He added that the media from GRTS were brought to the area to report the situation which he will relate back to the government for further help. Asked what immediate help is being provided to the people, Mr. Sillah said local area citizens have responded and some have already bought items to help the people. Residents reported that Mr. Sillah stated that they were going to wait for the President to return from Mecca to see what kind of help would be provided to the residents. Citizens of Kuntaur, Niani and surroundings engaged on fundraising activities to help flood victims. A gofundme account was set up by WAA Niani Association who collected over $4,000 in addition to other funds that have been raised by local area residents in Sweden and other parts of the world. WAA Niani Association sent $1000 which was delivered by local area youths representing the organization.
Sensing a void of government presence, GDC immediately convened an Executive meeting to respond to the situation. According to the spokesperson M5 Jallow who spoke to Gainako while in the area, GDC bought 220 bags of rice close to D200,000 to donate to the people. 100 bags were donated to Kuntaur and the remaining 120 bags were donated to the surrounding villages who were also affected according to Mr. Jallow. Gainako upon learning about the efforts of GDC reached out to their spokesperson to get information about the gesture. We also asked about the source of the funding which many of our readers and listeners would be interested to know. Jallow said the source of the funding are from partners and donors of the party who has close relationship with the party leader Mamma Kandeh. Asked if GDC can provide legal proof if required of the source of the funding, M5 Jallow affirmed that the sources are legal and his party does not engage in illegal activities. Mr. Jallow also added that this is not the first time GDC is reaching out to help the Gambian people. He referenced a bridge built by GDC in the kantora Upper River Region and also opening up a drainage system in Banjul to ease the burden on the local people.
GDC, like them or not appears to be filling a void that the sitting government is either slow or unable to respond to timely at this time. They appears to be exploiting a niche at a time when the people of the Gambia need urgent direct help. Critics may see GDC’s actions as a political opportunism to win the minds of the people, while supporters argue that the party is out to help the people. Political pundits see GDC’s actions are a smart political strategy to reach out directly to the people at their times of need. In fact, other political parties such as PDOIS has engaged in directly helping the people since they came into existence. Although it may not be at the scale and visibility of GDC due to mainly social media, they too have been doing this on the ground. Clear examples are the Nyakoi Primary School in Serekunda, local funding projects created by MPs like Sidia Jatta and Halifa Sallah. Obviously every political party has its own way of reaching out to the people either through youth movements which UDP does or other forms of social interaction.
The government of President Barrow should take the GDC seriously in some of the activities they are engaged in directly helping the people. This is definitely a political niche that GDC is exploiting in their efforts to win the hearts and minds of the local people. The government needs to reassess it’s efforts to provide basic services to the people. It appears to be slow in responding to needs of the people; from the garbage situation in Kanifing Municipality; the unfortunate incident in Kanilai, the Golden Leaf situation and now the floods. The people are suffering and they expect the government to respond to their needs directly and immediately. It certainly has more resources and more equipped to address such situations. The people of Kuntaur and Niani needs immediate help from their government and the idea of waiting until the president returns from the Hajj to respond to the needs of the people would not sit very well with the people. For now, the people of Kuntaur/Niani and even other parts of Gambia which also experienced some flooding needs their government.
Report filed by Demba Baldeh Associate Editor.