The party argues that the agreement indicates an unfavorable financial return for the government, especially when compared to the potential benefits if operated and managed by the government itself.
The full text of the press release reads below:
Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) Strongly advises The Gambia Government to revisit the Asset Recycling agreement with Africa50 for the Senegambia Bridge.
The Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) party wishes to express its vehement opposition and deep concern regarding the government’s recent decision to go into asset recycling arrangement of the Senegambia bridge with Africa50, entailing a sum of 100 million dollars over a period of 25 years, or a target IIR for investors of 15%, whichever comes first.
The GDC, as a responsible political party, deems it necessary to bring to light the flaws and drawbacks of this agreement, which has grave implications for the Gambian economy and the welfare of our citizens.
We are deeply concerned with the long-term financial implications that this arrangement will impose on the Gambian economy. The terms of the agreement indicate an unfavorable financial return for the government, especially when compared to the potential benefits of the bridge if operated and managed by the government itself. By mortgaging the bridge, the government is depriving itself of a significant revenue stream that could be utilised for the nation’s development and the improvement of essential services.
Contrary to the government’s justifications for pursuing this deal, it is important to note that the bridge has the potential to generate substantial revenue if operated and managed by the government. Therefore, the decision to mortgage it seems unnecessary and counterproductive to the best interests of our nation.
Equally concerning is the government’s contradictory actions, such as the recent establishment of a Ministry of Digital Economy aimed at modernising and digitalising the country’s economic system. It is perplexing that while the government claims to prioritise digitalisation, it has chosen to relinquish control of a critical infrastructure like the Senegambia bridge to a private entity instead of managing it.
However, allowing Africa50 to manage the bridge will inevitably create inconveniences for drivers as toll fee can be increased at the detriment of the bridge users which could be very inconvenient for the drivers and other users. The fear of fare increment would impact negatively on the user and with strong conviction of leading to increment in fares.
The government’s decision fails to consider the potential challenges and disruptions that may arise when the bridge is operated by a third-party entity, potentially compromising the safety, efficiency, and overall experience of those utilising this crucial transport link.
As a party, we believe if there would have been asset recycling, Gamtel and Gamcel would have been a good pick, since it has been struggling for survival for decades.
On record, the Minister of Transport, Works and Infrastructure has confirmed that the two bridges in the Upper River Region (URR), where the government spent huge amounts of money were neglected by them. This shows the lack of seriousness in our public officials to be at speed in their task. The two bridges in Basse are so much important to the development of the country.
We urge the government to prioritize the use of CCTV cameras and a digitalised ticketing system which we believe since it began operation has been less effective. This will guarantee transparency and accountability in the operation of the bridge and will help reduce corruption and ensure that the benefits of the project reach the Gambian people as it should.
Furthermore, we call on the government to engage the National Assembly on matters of such at all times. The Executive and the legislature must have the cordial working relationship to assess such an agreement on behalf of the Gambian people.
In conclusion, the Minister of Finance and Economic affairs agreeing to this deal is a loss to the nation. We believe the minister should have been more acquainted with the economic realities and commit the nation to agreements of great interest.
The government should reconsider this decision, engage in transparent and accountable processes, and prioritise the long-term interests of the Gambian people.
The GDC remains committed to safeguarding the welfare and prosperity of our nation.
Honourable Mamma Kandeh
(Secretary General and Party Leader GDC)