Thursday, June 1

Mayor Lowe says youth and women empowerment remains her top priority

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“Women’s development and the empowerment of young people in the capital city Banjul will continue in my second term. We also have housing projects for women. What I always want is to ensure that the difficulties women of Banjul and the country at large are encountering become the things of the past. We will do everything possible in ensuring that women of Banjul and the country in general are economically empowered and their livelihoods significantly change,” she told our reporter in an exclusive interview.

Mayor Rohey who is the first female mayor of the BCC also doubles as the President of Rafela. She was last year also appointed as the Vice Chair of the Global Parliament of Mayors (GPM). She will be locking horns with Ebou Faye, of the ruling National People’s Party (NPP). 

The BCC mayor who expressed optimism of defeating Ebou Faye further added: “When I was elected as mayor in 2018, I made sure that I worked tirelessly in implementing my manifesto which addresses women empowerment, health, education and culture among others. What we did when we came in 2018 was to transform, restructure and reposition the council to one of the best area councils in the country. BCC was just like a political bureau before we came into power. I can now tell you that the council is now repositioned and we have now transformed it to a better institution. We now have qualified procurement officers, record offices among others.” 

In order to ensure that taxpayers’ money is properly managed, “we employ a qualified financial director. These were all not happening before we came into power. This gives value to what we are doing. In fact, there was no water and electricity and the council was heavily indebted. However, with my team, we were able to manage and pay the debts which were amounting to millions.”

Apart from the Sahel and the Standard Bank, she went on, the “BCC was heavily indebted to all banks. We have now cleared that with a view to give confidence to our partners. These are good achievements because it has also helped the council to be able to focus on other development ranging from paying our counterpart contribution to the new office building and Youth for Excellence center and we also manage to build and renovate toilets in the market and buy bins for households in Banjul.”

“With our good negotiation skills, the BCC was able to get trucks from the Port Authority. We also manage to bring funding from the EU. In fact, it’s the first time the EU is coming to the level of the grassroots and gives money to the local government. We were able to mobilise resources and also maximise the council’s revenues to 42% which has helped us to give scholarships to needy students.” 

BCC, Rohey Lowe said, has sponsored hundreds of needy students with the desire of ensuring that they achieve quality education. “We also focused on culture given the fact that culture is part of Banjul. We thus take a key role in supporting cultural groups in the city as well as also supporting religious groups in Banjul.” 

Commenting on the 10 million dalasis women’s initiative that she launched, Mayor Lowe said, the initiative has contributed immensely towards the socio-economic development of the women beneficiaries. “The women are doing extremely well in the various businesses. Rafela has also tried to lobby fund in order to support women. We in fact expand our intervention to rural women by digging boreholes for them in their gardens.”      

“You also have seen from the Women’s led cities that One million dollars are given to women every five years. Therefore, BCC will receive one million dollars every year. Also in the area of youth development, we have planned to send some young people outside the country for training among others.”

“We have digitised all the council revenues with a view to stop leakages among others. Again, with the EU project we have a hall at Crab Island which can accommodate about 700 people and for the first time Banjul has a radio. We also have a recording studio that will help uplift young Banjulian artists who want to get into the music industry. The hall also has eight classes that are all about skills.”