By Kebba Ansu Manneh
Lamin Fatty, Chief Registrar of Birth and Death at the Ministry of Health has confirmed the sacking of five (5) officials from the ongoing mass national birth registration exercises. He revealed that the officials were engaged in activities that breach the contract agreement they signed with the Ministry of Health.
“Over 162,000 people have been registered while over 21,000 registers are pending due to their submission of incomplete documents,” he told journalists on Thursday at the Ministry of Health in Banjul.
“We have seen some of our people who have been found wanting and presently five of our officials have been dismissed. We discharged them from our services because we have seen that they have not been complying with the registration protocols,” Lamin Fatty stated.
He added that “Registration must be confidential, it must be permanent and it must have privacy. Personal data is an individual’s strength and nobody should have access to them.”
According to him, third-party registrations are not allowed meaning nobody can stay outside for your registration to be processed, and he noted that anyone found wanting of such a crime must face the full force of law.
He noted that the ongoing mass birth certificate registration exercise is cost-free to the applicants and it has been fully sponsored, disclosing that registering a birth in The Gambia has never passed D15.00 in the country since independence.
Speaking on the issue of attestation, Chief Birth and Death Registrar said village Alkalos and community leaders can only provide attestations to people born in their villages. He added that village Alkalos cannot provide attestations to people who are merely residing in their villages and anyone found wanting will face the full force of the law.
He disclosed that certain Alkalos have been found wanting and have already been reported to their right authorities for redress. This act, he said, is a criminal act for any Alkalo to attest to anybody who is not born in their villages.
“It is illegal for one to give false information to the registration officers and it is illegal to alter the documentation. It is equally illegal to reduce your age or come with false documentation to the registration centers.”
He added: “What we realised is that some Alkalos are giving out attestations to people who are not born in their communities that is illegal.
“You cannot say someone who is not born in your community should be provided with an attestation form, should people go back to their communities and obtain attestations from their Alkalos.”
Modou Njai, Director of Health Promotion and Education said the mass birth registration is a nationwide exercise that will cover every community in the country. He said that currently 79 registered centers have been opened and operating in the Greater Banjul Area and will later be moved to other communities gradually as the exercise continues.
He affirmed that the Ministry is well aware of the delays in payment of allowances to the officials of the birth registration, noting that the delay is partly on the side of the officials some of who are not banking with the commercial banks but rather with microfinance institutions that make the transfer of their monies difficult.
He said the Ministry of Health is working round the clock to sort out all those who are yet to receive their allowances. He said also that the Ministry is also working on allowances for the teams heading to the Foni region by Monday with the view to making life easier for the officials as well as making them focus on their work.
He, therefore, called on communities that are yet to see the registration teams to be vigilant as the teams will come to their communities as scheduled, noting that currently all the registration teams are within the Greater Banjul Areas and by October they will be deployed in the rural Gambia.
He again warned village Alkalos and community leaders to desist from issuing attestation forms to applicants who are not born in their villages or communities, the act of falsifying documents by any Alkalo or community leader is equal to a felony and anyone found wanting will face the full force of the law without mercy