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The Barra-Banjul Proposed Bridge By President Barrow: A Few Questions…

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By: Musa Bah Tha Scribbler,

As a native of Lower Niumi District, North Bank Region, I will be elated if there is a bridge connecting the two. Considering the cost and hassle of crossing from one side to the other, it will be a huge relief for my districtmates and I to have the ability to go and come to and from Barra without restrictions.

However, hearing the announcement of plans to begin the work as soon as 2019 from the blue, as it were, one cannot help but wonder if it is not a political gimmick to delude the people of the country into believing that the government is about to embark on massive development work. The Wolof have a saying that ‘Ku ndobin rey sa maam foo seene lu nyuul daw’. The rough equivalent of this in English is ‘Once bitten twice shy’. (Not a literal translation)

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I can vividly remember Yahya Jammeh announcing plans to construct a railway through the length and breadth of the country to ease transportation; and another claim that Banjul will be rebuilt to meet world standards. In fact, architectural sketches were shown on GRTS giving people hope that it would soon come to pass. As it turned out though, these were tall orders for a poor country like ours. This is why we are skeptical of such mighty promises which are not matched by the answers to the how question.

If Gambians had been aware of a feasibility study on how best to do this; on where the money will come from; on who will construct the bridge, perhaps people would have felt more confident in its being a reality. However, we have not heard of any study to establish whether this is doable, whether or not it will not have adverse environmental effects and so on.

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Looking at the problems we are facing in the environment sector, one would expect that whatever government is doing, it will give due consideration to its possible impact on our environment. Besides, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people in Barra and Banjul whose livelihoods are directly linked to the ferry services. What will happen to them? Will they be catered for?

Another factor that is bothering me is that there was talk, not long ago, in some quarters that Banjul will one day be consumed by the ocean. In fact, I heard that one United Nations expert estimated that this is bound to happen in the next fifty years or so. Whether this is true or not is another question. What is certain however is that if these questions are being raised, a feasibility study should have been conducted to see the viability of the bridge before the announce was made.

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On the area of financing, it is clear that we, as a nation, are not in a position to finance such a huge project on our own. If it is to be on the basis of a loan, then we should be concerned as we are already almost about to be swallowed in debt. These loans will have to be paid by our future generations one day or the other. Thus, all these questions need to be answered.

The construction of the bridge will be great though, so one will be able to cross at any time one chooses. At least it will get the Jarrankas like Pata PJand Alieu Ceesay off my back. Good luck in any case!

Have a Good Day MR President…

Tha Scribbler Bah
A Concerned Citizen

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