By Bambo Jarsey
We must separate politics from development. We must learn to recognize, accept and work for the public interest, rather than narrow political and partisan interests. The recent decision by the Ministry of Local Government not to support KMC’s application for a duty waiver and of the Ministry of Finance to deny such a waiver, is a shameful act of politicizing human development. The only reason that duty waiver was not granted is because Mayor Talib Ahmed Bensouda chose to remain loyal to the United Democratic Party, rather than sell his soul to President Barrow, as others have done. There is no doubt that if the Lord Mayor had shifted allegiance to the Barrow Fans Club, the duty waiver would have been granted as a matter of course.
On a day-to-day basis, the Adama Barrow government continues to show Gambians that the only thing that matters to it, is how to advance the President’s personal agenda of perpetuating himself in power. The development needs of the people, however compelling they may be, do not matter at all. No one can deny that Mayor Bensouda is doing a fantastic job for the benefit of his people. Never before in the history of The Gambia has the central Government, not to speak of a local municipality, imported such a large number of garbage collection trucks. The “Mbalit Project” is an unprecedented public interest project that advances not only the general health and welfare of the residents of KMC, but also benefits the environment in the interests of current and future generations.
I am a resident of KMC. Everyone who lives here, and even those who come from outside, are aware of the dire need of communities all across the municipality for a reliable and efficient garbage collection system. Many of us currently engage the services of private contractors to collect garbage from our homes and dump it at the dump sites. The monthly cost of such a service ranges from D1300 to D2000 depending upon the location. How many people can afford that?
The initiative by Mayor Bensouda is therefore a most welcome and laudable development project that serves the interest of the population. For the Barrow Government to choose to penalize such an initiative for no just cause, and on the lame excuse that they were not consulted prior to purchasing the trucks, or that the procurement process was not channeled through them, flies in the face of reason. This is simply a political gimmick that has cost tax-payers in Kanifing municipality D13 million (thirteen million Dalasis). This money could have been invested in other development projects for the benefit of the population. It is my hope that fellow KMC residents will remember this in 2021 and hold President Barrow accountable for politicizing their development needs.
Finally, given the unquestionable development motive for the importation of the garbage collection trucks, I invite the Gambia Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Finance to refund the D13 million to the people of KMC. In a post-Jammeh Gambia, these institutions must refuse to be used for political purposes by any individual, however powerful they may be.