By: Sandally Sawo
The National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) on Thursday signed an $18.6M water infrastructure enhancement project with partners as the country prepares to host the OIC Summit later this year.
The OIC Gambia Secretariat, through the government of The Gambia, secured $22.5M in funding from the Saudi Fund to improve critical water infrastructure in the country.
NAWEC yesterday formalized the contract for the civil works component of the water project following the signing of the contract agreement with Pabi Ford Company, OIC and Cityscapes Associates at its Head Office in Serekunda.
Speaking before the contract was signed, the Managing Director of NAWEC, Nani Juwara, said: “Today is an important day for all of us. We will be witnessing the signing of a water project funded by the OIC Secretariat with the support of the Gambia government. As we are all aware, The Gambia will be hosting the OIC conference this year. As part of the infrastructural developments, the OIC Secretariat has identified the water sector as a critical component that requires attention. And we are lucky to receive funding to the tune of about 22.5M dollars for this particular project. And there are components to the project as highlighted by the project manager. We have the consultancy component, water borehole component…that is the drilling of boreholes and also we have the component for civil works. The contract we’ll be signing today is for the civil works.”
According to Mr. Juwara, the water project will lessen the water stress of Gambians.
“We are really very excited today, knowing this is going to be a project that is going to alleviate the suffering of our people.Currently, the demand on water is already very high and unfortunately, we are not meeting the demand as at now. So many communities are going for days, weeks and months without water,” the Nawec MD stated. He added: “I am very hopeful that the implementation of this project will help to, at least, minimize some of those constraints we are facing because this project is going to provide some production boreholes, a transmission network for raw water supply, and also a distribution network for clean water and also construction of some elevated tanks.”
He said NAWEC “is really” excited and grateful to the Gambiagovernment, OIC Secretariat and Saudi Fund for their support to the Gambia government.
The Gambia OIC Secretariat’s boss Mr. Yankuba Dibbaexplained that the project should’ve been implemented almost 20 months ago. “As the saying goes…it’s better late than never. OIC Secretariat has actually arranged funding for five strategic projects and sorry to say, this is the last of our projects that is being started,” he explained.
Mr. Dibba made an impassioned call to the implementing partners to treat the project with greater urgency because according to him, the project is being funded by a grant.
“Unfortunately, what is even more of a concern is that it’s agrant. All our other projects are loans but this particular one is a grant. And it should be treated with more urgency than all the other projects. I am delighted to be here to sign this project and I am sure the Saudi Fund will be delighted too,” he stated.
He reiterated the appeal for timely delivery.
“There is no issue with regard to accessing funds as long as we are doing the job in a timely manner and bringing it to the quality that it requires. Also, I implore all players to ensure we do our best in terms of timely delivery and in terms of quality that the job requires. It’s a public good. Gambians are yearning for clean and adequate water,” the OIC Gambia Secretariat boss pointed out.
The signing ceremony was, among others, witnessed by senior staff of NAWEC, representatives of the firms and NAWEC’s board chair Crispin Grey Johnson.