President Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh yesterday made asurprised tour of Banjul, promising to build up all the dilapidated major roads within the capital city by end December 2013.
The tour which took over five hours, saw the head of State walking around the city on foot alongside engineers and cabinet ministers as well as the mayor of Banjul. It was meant among other things to survey the project intervention sites, discuss and share ideas with the engineers prior to the kick-start of the implementation. It also accorded the president the opportunity to get first-hand information on the state of the roads in the capital.
Buckle Street was the first port of call for the president and delegation, before they proceeded to Cotton, Blanc, William, Charles, Dobson, Grand, Hagan and Fitzgerald streets respectively.
Speaking to journalists shortly after the tour, President Jammeh said his administration has rebuilt Banjul roads not less than five times from 1994 to date and each time heavy rains come, it destroys them. This, according to him, is due to the fact that the water table in Banjul is very high.
"So, we have realised that this conventional road construction is not helping because the government is spending a lot of money on it. The first APRC projects in Banjulwere the Banjul streets and we have repaired them more than five times at cost, but now we have realised that we are going for something that is more durable and that is to concrete the whole roads," he said.
He continued: "The evidence of this is the fact that all the roads in State House are concrete and we realised that they last longer. In fact in State House, we used to rebuild the roads every year after the rains but you see this time around, there is not even a single scratch on them [the roads].
So we are working with the National Roads Authority (NRA) who came up with the idea of making concrete roads in Banjul, because it has been done somewhere else and it works well, even though it is more cost-effective. It may be expensive but it is more durable, that is why we are surveying because we have to prioritise the roads based on the level of importance and traffic. We have to go around, discuss and share ideas because no one person can have solutions to all these problems. So, this is why we went around."
When asked whether the problems can be fixed, the Gambian leader responded in the affirmative, adding that they can fix it because the roads are not that terribly bad. He said what is horrible are the drainage systems.
"So we are going to fix them and we want to make sure that before the end of 2013, all major roads in Banjul are done. Remember we have the Golden Jubilee and the 50th Independence Anniversary at the corner and we cannot celebrate the 50 years anniversary with the streets of Banjul in the state they are. That is unacceptable," he further remarked.
President Jammeh disclosed that the Banjul City Council and the Gambia Ports Authority are the main funding institutions, but government will also chip in.