Ministry Of Lands & Regional Government Dispatches Inspectors To KMC, Issues Ultimatum
In the wake of the simmering tension that has engulfed the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) for weeks now, the Lord Mayor of KMC visited the Honourable Minister of Lands, Regional Government and Religious Affairs, Alhagie Musa Drammeh on Friday 23rd July 2021 and briefed him on the alleged fraud that was discovered at the council. However, the Hon. Minister advised him to put the said briefing in writing to be hand-delivered to him directly.
Before the receipt of that written report and to our utter surprise, on Monday the 26th July, 2021, The Lord Mayorheld a press briefing and announced the Resolution of the General Council meeting sending on indefinite leave, various officials accused of fraud and withdrawing of their statutory allowances. Immediately, the Hon Minister became aware of the press briefing, he immediately called the attention of Major Bensouda that he has overstepped his powers and summoned him to a meeting the following day (27th July, 2021).
In that meeting, Minister Drammeh reiterated his position on the normal procedure as par the Local Government Act, 2002 particularly, the appointment and disciplinary matters that are solely vested in the Local Government Service Commission. He urged the council through the Lord Mayor to rescind Council’s earlier decision that is unlawful and improper.
Curiously, moments after leaving the Minister’s office, the Mayor signed a hand-delivered letter to the Hon Minister dated 22nd July 2021, conveying the unlawful decision of the General Council reached on the 26th July, 2021 without adhering to the guidance of the minister. What was sucking to the Ministry was the inconsistency in the correspondence. Even though council passed its resolution on the 26th July, the letter conveying the decision was dated 22nd July four days prior to council’s resolution.
On Friday 30th July, 2021, KMC Mayor paid a second visit to the Hon Minister on the same issue and during that meeting, the Hon Minister maintained the position that the action of the council was unlawful and urged council to revisit their decision and submit their recommendations through the office of the permanent secretary to the Local Government Service Commission who are the competent authority to deal with the appointment and disciplinary of the public servants of the council.
On the 2nd of August, the Hon Minister in reply to Lord Mayor’s letter stating Council’s unlawful decision and his resolve to dispatch an Inspection Team based on Section 150 of the Local Government Act. Minister Drammeh also admonished the KMC to allow officials unlawfully sent on indefinite leave to participate in the recommended inspections.
To the minister’s amazement, while the Inspectors were allowed entry into the KMC premises, the suspended officials were denied access even before the arrival of the inspectors.
Therefore, the Ministry intends to execute its full responsibility strictly adhering to the Local Government Act 2002 failing which, the full force of the law will be applied.
Curiously however, the Hon Minister received a reply to his 2nd August, 2021 letter with the Resolution passed by the General Council on the 3rd of August their decision that the suspended officials remain on Indefinite Leave as per their earlier Resolution. KMC however, acquiesced on the payment of salaries and entitlements pending the outcome of investigations.
Therefore, The Ministry of Lands and Regional Government insists that its inspectors be allowed unhindered access to continue their work as of Thursday 5th August, 2021 and are expected to engage all parties by Monday including those sent on Indefinite Leave without due process.
Under the circumstances, the Ministry expects full compliancewith the inspection team failing which appropriate measures will be taken.
Ministry for Lands, Regional Government and Religious Affairs