Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

PRESIDENT BARROW SWEARS IN NEW JUDICIAL SERVICE COMMISSIONERS

August 20, 2017

PRESIDENT BARROW

REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA
PRIVATE Office of The President
State House
Banjul
THE GAMBIA _____________________________________________________________________________

17th August , 2017

PR/C/213/(ABS)

President Barrow swears in two new Judicial Service commissioners

Fajara 17 August 2017- President Adama Barrow has sworn in two new members of The Gambia’s Judicial Service Commission. Former National Assembly member Lamin Ceesay of Jarumeh Koto and veteran agronomist Bolong L.K. Jatta of Busumbala both took the oath at a swearing-in ceremony in the Office of the President today.

Constituting the membership of the commission and getting it fully operational is part of the institutional reforms underway to improve efficiency in the Gambian Judiciary.

Messrs Jatta and Ceesay told journalists after the ceremony that they would work diligently along with other members to contribute to sound reform of the Gambian Judiciary. They expressed their appreciation for the trust bestowed on them, and optimism that the appointment of qualified Gambian judges would restore confidence in the country’s judicial system.

Chief Justice Hassan Abubacarr Jallow said the new members of the Judicial Service Commission brought a wealth of community experience to the work of the body, and strengthened it immensely. He expressed confidence in their ability to discharge their responsibilities with professionalism and integrity.

The Judiciary Service Commission is responsible for recommending appointments of judges and magistrates. It also advises the President and the government on measures to improve efficiency.

The appointments were based on section 145(1)(e) and section 145(1)(f) of The Gambia’s 1997 Constitution.

The Secretary General and head of the Gambian Civil Service, Mr Dawda Fadera, and senior officials from the Judiciary and the Office of the President witnessed the ceremony.

End

Contact:

Amie Bojang-Sissoho
Director of Press & Public Relations
Office of the President, State House, Banjul
Email:absissoho@op.gov.gm
dpprop2017@gmail.com
Tel: +220 9957592
Twitter: @BarrowPresident
Twitter:@AmieBSissoho
Facebook: Barrow PORG
Website: statehouse.gov.gm

HELLO MR PRESIDENT : OUR NATIONAL DOCUMENTS

August 8, 2017

Author: Tha Scribbler Bah

It’s been months since your government through the minister for the Interior, Mr Mai Ahmad Fatty, announced the discontinuation of the issuance of the national documents, ID Cards and Passports. This has had some serious consequences on many folks in this country. For instance, one goes to a bank and is unable to withdraw any money because the ID card is expired. Or, one goes to a hospital and cannot enjoy the privilege of being a Gambian so one has to pay the fee foreigners are supposed to pay. There are many others to this effect.

Mr President, the public does not really know the reason[s] behind the discontinuation of the issuance of the national documents. The saying that many non Gambians were given these documents, or that some people have the ability to produce fake ID cards is not reason enough to stop issuing them to genuine Gambians. Why can’t the government find a way to produce ID cards which cannot be forged? Why can’t there be a mark which will differentiate between the fake and genuine one? There has to be way of doing it which doesn’t include denying genuine Gambians their right to obtain the national documents.

It is also said that the previous government signed an agreement with a foreign company for the issuing of biometric ID cards and biometric passports. It is said that in this contract, the government of the Gambia gains only D500 out of the D3000+ that passport applicants pay. I do not know whether this is true or not, but if it is, then it is ridiculous and that the government should terminate it forthwith. Certainly, there are Gambians who have the expertise to produce such documents. There is no reason why we should allow a foreign company to take away our hard earned money when our people can do it and the money remain in our country.

While we are talking about the national identity card, I want to suggest that we combine the ID card, the voter’s card and social security number in one. Let us find a way of making all these into one card. This has a lot of benefits for the country and will solve many problems for us.

Besides, the issue if the ID card expiring after five years should be revisited. Why don’t we have an ID which does not expire, or, at least let it last for a period if ten years. This will reduce the burden on ordinary citizens to be running around looking for ID cards every now and then.

The national documents are too important to be discontinued for this long. Find a way of surmounting this problem as soon as possible.

Tha Scribbler Bah

A Concerned Citizen

THE DOYEN IN GAMBIAN POLITICS HALIFA SALLAH IN OSLO

August 2, 2017

Halifa Sallah at Oslo Airport

The doyen in Gambian politics Halifa Sallah has landed safely at Oslo’s main international airport Gardermoen late yesternight and was warmly welcomed. Mr. Sallah who is the national assembly member for Serekunda constituency and adviser to president Barrow is on an Europe tour to meet Gambians and well-wishers in the diaspora. In Norway he is expected to meet with politicians, technocrats and experts in various fields. His engagement begins today wednesday August 2nd , a day in which he is scheduled to visit a waste management or recycling plant in Oslo  this morning. The Gambia has a huge waste or rubbish disposal problem which has resulted to serious environmental hazards affecting residents close to the main dumpsite at Bakoteh. The lack of proper measures geared towards finding a lasting  solution to the problem created unease between the municipality, central government and residents. Therefore Halifa Sallah’s visit to the rubbish cycling plant in Oslo will avail him the opportunity to have first hand information which he can share with relevant authorities back home as a politician and law maker.

Tomorrow Thursday August 3rd, the veterant politician is scheduled to have a seminar with the diaspora youth  at 1500hr. He would joined two other panelists to have a qualitative dialogue on the theme “Engaging Culture and Identity”. This seminar will take place at the Nordic Black Theatre down town Oslo. Before the seminar on Thursday he would have a meeting with leaders of the Norwegian  Red party in the morning at 9:30, and Oslo City Council at 12:30.

On Friday morning August 4th Mr. Sallah is scheduled to visit the Norwegian parliament  to meet  with the  leader of foreign affairs and defense committee. On Friday evening at 18:00hrs he  will grace another seminar that is going to be also a qualitative dialogue with the Gambian diaspora community in Oslo on the theme ” National Reconciliation, Justice and Democratisation in the New Gambia” – The Gambia is experiencing a new era after 22 years of brutal dictatorship which has seriously weakened the country’s social fabric. This fragile fabric needs to be carefully strengthened in order avoid a civil catastrophy. Those who invited the national assembly member for Serekunda constituency are aware of the crucial role he played as spokesperson of the coalition that outed former president Jammeh, they are aware of the calmness and resolve he displayed during the tense political impasse prior January 19th 20017. This is why they felt it is very pertinent for Mr. Sallah to engage the whole Gambian community in Oslo of different background and different political affiliation in order to clear out assumptions and misconceptions surrounding the current affairs of our beloved country The Gambia. It is through such honest qualitative dialogue that runs across the board we can together help realize the agenda of one Gambia, one nation, one people.

From Oslo Honourable Sallah will travel to Stockholm on Saturday where he is expected to be engaged in a series of meetings with the Gambian community there as well. From Sweden he will travel to Denmark and then to Hamburg Germany which is expected to be the last stop of his Europe tour. Continue to visit this medium for updates on Halifa Sallah’s tour.

Written by Landing Nyassi , Oslo 02-08-2017

EXAMINING BARROW’S PLANS FOR GAMBIA’S HEALTH SECTOR

August 2, 2017

 

Author: Dr Muhammed Teks Tekanyi, USA

Dr Muhammed Teks Tekanyi, USA

 

“Alongside providing people with safe drinking water and sanitation, my government, through the Ministry of Health, is scaling up its efforts to improve our health delivery systems, especially for women and children.

As a first step, we have obtained additional assets to support primary health care provision in the country. This includes 800 pedal bicycles and 29 motorbikes for Village Health Workers and Community Health Nurses across the country’s seven health regions.

I am pleased to report that the World Bank has approved US$7 million in additional funding for the Maternal and Child Health as well as the Nutrition Result Project. My government has also submitted a proposal to the EU to enhance food security.  We would welcome their support to help us treat acute malnutrition and prevent all forms of under-nutrition.

With more than 95 percent coverage, we are also getting support from the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (GAVI) to help us consolidate our strong track record on child immunizations. This project, estimated at US$4.6 million will help strengthen and enhance our immunization systems.” President Barrow, July 24, 2017.

A review of the president’s deliberation on health would conclude that it was entirely based on primary healthcare which fortunately has been the most active component of the Gambian health delivery systems since the first republic with both the secondary and tertiary remaining as strugglers.

How do we then as a nation improve the functions of the two other important components of the health system?

At a personal level and in consideration of the small size of our population, I will suggest an emulation of the National health Service (NHS) UK and in this, primary health care should be made free or next to free in order to make it readily available as a measure of preventing disease burden while maintaining it completely at Health Centre level.

Furthermore, all the regional hospitals including Bundung Maternal and child (formerly Jammeh Foundation) hospital be upgraded into proper general hospitals to provide affordable secondary care for each administrative region with Polyclinic serving as a secondary care service centre for Banjul.

And the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital and Serrekunda General Hospital can then be given full autonomy to be managed by their own independent administrations and as well upgraded as proper and well equipped tertiary hospitals for Medical & Surgical and Maternal & Child Care respectively.

However, the care at the tertiary level should be purely advanced specialist paid for services in order to meet their maintenance cost and most be made adequate and readily available by the respective hospitals.

This will help decongest both hospitals in terms of capacity needs and as well reduce the burden related to demand overriding supply which has always been the cause of deficit in services rendered at the tertiary level.

Moreover, to prevent the stagnation of the health personal (doctors and nurses) particularly doctors, the Medical and Dental council can restructure the internship program for graduates of the medical school into two phases; a one year 3 monthly rotation at the teaching hospitals and a year rotation at the regional hospitals.

This can come with three benefiting results;

1 – it will reduce the expenditure relating to increased staff capacity of the teaching hospitals thus creating funds for the improvement of other areas of the hospitals.

2 – it will improve performance by creating competition for those doctors/nurses that may want to return to the tertiary hospitals at the end of their regional hospital rotations.

3 – it will broaden and enrich the experience of those posted doctors and nurses.

How can we improve the human resource  capacity to maintain the functionality of these systems?

It is commendable to say that the country has trained many doctors, nurses, public health officers and other cadres. However, in health, training without specialisation is synonymous to building a multipurpose house without furniture.

Hence the need to graduate the government’s concentration from undergraduate to postgraduate training with diversification of specialty for both doctors and nurses while creating attractive incentives for those abroad to return and contribute in the strengthening of the existing systems.

And to avoid brain drain, flexible bonds with as well incentives should be attached to postgraduate training grants which can be gained through bilateral and multilateral cooperations with countries like Nigeria, Turkey, India, Senegal, China etc thus instead of building a $50M conference centre or a $48M forensic lab for example, these funds can be used to train 10 -15 specialists whom in 5years upon their return can save the government more than the amount spent on their training.

It is therefore paramount for the government to work on redirecting its foreign aid policy from monetary to human resource development which will thus prevent the drainage of funds into unknown wells and as well reduce corruption.

Dr Muhammed Teks Tekanyi, USA

GAMBIA: ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY AND REGULATIONS – “A WAY FORWARD FOR OUR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PARADIGMS”

July 30, 2017

Author: Abdoukarim Sanneh, London

By Abdoukarim Sanneh, London

Mehmet Murat Ildan Turkish playwright, novelist and thinker stated that Environmental pollution is not only humanity’s treason to humanity but also treason to all other living creatures on Earth. The coming of World Commission on Environment and Development and the publication of its report our common future was a turning point in the global advocacy of national environmental policy  development to environmental problems in both developed and developing countries. The World Commission on Environment and Development, commonly known as Brundtland Commission, which was headed by Former Prime Minister of Norway and one time Director General of World Health Organisation is reference in academic circles as the most important document of the decade on the future of our planet-earth.
The Genesis of the report our common future had opened not only academic/ intellectual debate of the future of our planet but also political ecological thought for development that should meet the need of the current generation without compromising that of the future generation which become know as sustainable development. In The United Kingdom, since after the publication of Brundtland Commission report, the Department of Environment, now known as Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to commission an independent study called the Blue print for green economy which endorsed the report of World Commission for Sustainable Development, providing the most influential account for UK economic policies to achieve sustainable development.
The Brundtland Commission report led to a shift in policy directions in many other countries and the birth of green party politics. It was the recommendations of the Brundtland Commission report our common future which shape the debate of United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, known as the Earth Summit in Brazil in June 1992. In the views of many environmental activists, the Earth Summit was a failure; but for many academics and development commentators,  it was the beginning of the most important legal binding agreements between developed and developing countries such as convention on biological diversity, convention on sustainable development(Agenda 21), convention on desertification and convention on climate change. These conventions have shift international diplomacy and shape relationships between nation states in developed and developing countries in this millennium and beyond.
In the Gambia, the issues of environmental protection and erosion of biological resources have been a concern since the first Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel meeting in Banjul following the 1970s Sahelian drought. The Government of the Gambia was aware of degradation of our national fauna and flora and in 1977 came up with what is known as the Banjul Declaration for the conservation and protection of our national flora and fauna. In policy dimension, because of the fact that Agriculture and environmental goods is major contributor the economy there was strong political will and commitment to natural resource management.

 

After Gambia’s participation at the World Summit on Environment and Development, commonly known as Earth Summit, the PPP Government with international funding in the age of what World Bank critic such as Professor Michael Goldman of Yale University called imperial nature- the world Bank and the struggles for social justice in the age of globalisation, was able to secure funding and consultancy that transformed the Environmental Unit at the Department of Water Resources into what is today known as the National Environment Agency. The Gambia National Environment Agency (NEA) came through an Act of parliament called Environment Management Act, 1994. The legal mandate of the agency was to formulate environmental policies. The deficit of the Act was that the agency was not mandated further to develop and replicate its own environmental and development projects at national stage. The Agency was reduced to coordination, advice and consultation; overseeing compliance and providing technical advice on environmental issues and related development. The National Environment Agency is an institution with highly trained multidisciplinary team of professionals but cannot function within the scope and mandate like UK Environmental Agency-Independent, autonomous, and development oriented, decentralised to all the regions.
The Former APRC Government even with my critical observation of the progress of the National Environmental policy-“Gambia Environmental Action Plan”, have been positive and shows commitment in maintaining the semi-autonomous status of the agency before and after transition from military to quasi democracy. But the reality is that putting Gambia’s environmental crisis into perspectives, there is a need to shift policy direction towards environmental action beyond officialdom. The activities of National Environment Agency need funding and should be decentralised from central stage level to divisional/regional level and district level, through not only technical but also development arms. For example, every local government administration need environmental unit and environmental management plan to deal local environmental management issues at local government level such as land management, fly tipping, housing and environmental planning, flood, rivers and coastal risk management, waste management, pollution, environmental permit and information etc.
There are lot of good work/ efforts that the Environment Agency is doing. A lot of work has been done in the environmental information dissemination, communication and sensitisation to increase citizens’ awareness on the state of Gambia’s environment.  The agency need resources to strengthen and should be given more regulatory and enforcement powers. This can only be done if we use and new democracy to developed effective environmental laws and regulation from the protection of all our environmental media. For example Golden Leaf Factory Pollution incidence in Gunjur, if it was in United Kingdom both Environment Act 1995, Water Resources 1991 and Water Industry Act 1991, all stated that in the legal status/code that knowingly and willingly discharge of untreated waste into any body is a criminal offence.

 

With rapid urbanisation in urban and semi-urban areas, the agency need to collaborate and support local government authorities in designing a strategic waste management action plan including public sensitisation issues on environmental health matters. Local Government authorities in return should complement the efforts of the Environment Agency with the provision of dustbins and lavatories in all public areas and spaces. Environmental health is an important requirement of our national development. Poor hygiene and sanitation in Africa is primary cause of the prevalence of both air and water borne diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid etc.
Coming up with National Waste Management strategy will practically find solution at current problem of municipal waste disposal facing many of the urban local government administration. Mountains of both biodegradable and non biodegradable solid wastes from Greater Banjul area which is openly dumped in Bakoteh Land fill site, contains a lot of methane that can be used as a source of energy. This can be incinerated to generate energy which can be transformed into electricity. Gambia needs an incineration plant to address thousands of tonnes of solid waste that end up in open space dumping sites affecting not only the visual scenery but also the natural beauty of our landscape. Gambia needs waste management policy which is directed towards re-use, recycle and regeneration. Our country needs sustainable municipal waste management strategies and frameworks. A healthy environment improves the living conditions of people and increases life expectancy.
The Gambia Environment National Agency could be institutionally functional beyond its legal mandate through addressing crucial issues of sustainability within the framework of Local Government decentralisation. The recent amendment of Local Government Act, have shifted all exclusive powers to the president and has grossly undermined any meaningful reform strategies put in place by United Nation Development Fund, commission on decentralisation projects of local government, which the Gambia benefited during military transition from first to second republic.
Gambia is a signatory to Sustainable development agenda known as agenda 21, which gives emphasis to local democracy, popular participation, social justice, environmental protection etc. New Gambia need to revisit its Local Government Act in order to strengthen inclusive transparent and accountable democratic Local Government system that focuses on fight against social injustice. The goals of sustainable development aims at addressing social inequality, environmental protection and local democracy is within the platform of local agenda 21, which draws on development through participatory approach and empowerment. The autocratic control of local government is a way forward to undermine the local agenda 21 through popular participation for decision making and environmental justice.
On legal dimension, there is a need for further development of Gambia’s environmental legislation in line with the current economic and global environmental realities. Environmental laws in the Gambia should cover all environmental medium such as land, water and atmosphere. A resource poor economy like our country with more dependency on imported goods,  environmental legislation, regulation and enforcement should be strengthen to combat illegal dumping of either hazardous waste containing heavy metal into our environmental media. Africa’s marine ecosystem is a target for illegal dumping of hazardous chemical waste. For example the toxic dumping in Abidjan in 2006, resulting to the death of 6 people and 9000 people has sought for hospital treatment is an indication that we have to be vigilant. Environmental inspectorate of the Agency should be further developed to monitor and regulate pollution matters to any environmental medium such as land, water and air. The Gambia Navy also need training on monitoring, inspection and legal awareness of issues of marine pollution. Both the Gambia Revenue Authority/ Customs and Excise need further training in what is called Environmental management and Life Cycle Analysis. With massive importation of second hand goods into the country requires some form of Cradle-to grave-analysis to reduce environmental risk and dumping. The impact of such goods in terms of their durability and impact on the physical environment should be put in national policy domain or debate for both stakeholders to avoid indiscriminate dumping.
In the areas of built environment and infrastructural development, National Environment Agency should develop a policy framework or regulation to mitigate environmental impact on any developmental industry, government or private. With rapid increasing population and massive urbanisation, Gambia needs a well defined sustainable land-use system. Centralisation of power as in the local government Act will only get matters worse in the immediate and long term effects. It is about time to act if we can dictate development policies that meet the needs of the present generation without compromising that of the future generation in line with the principles of sustainability.

GAMBIA: POLITICAL PLURALISM

July 30, 2017

Author: Tha Scribbler Bah

By Tha Scribbler Ba

It has become common for people to ask, ‘Where were you when Jammeh was here , and why were you not criticizing?’ I think this type of position is ill-informed. Jammeh had a repressive regime and a very sinister way of silencing dissent. So, as ordinary citizens, it would have been foolhardy to take the regime head on.

Those of us who have no influence or voice [I am an ordinary classroom teacher] remained in the background doing whatever we could to survive. Well, December 2016 approached and all genuine Gambians were seized by a ‘political frenzy’. We campaigned, wrote articles and spoke to our people. The opposition did not disappoint. They came together and presented one candidate. We all went to the polls and voted for change. We were victorious and everyone was happy.

Now, there is a saying that ‘once beaten twice shy’. We all vowed never to allow one man to abrogate our rights again while we stand aside and watch. So, we therefore keep constant watch. Speak out when the need arises and criticise [constructively, I might add] anything we deem undemocratic. We all thought that there is hope for Gambia.

President Barrow has repeatedly said that there will be total freedom of the press and of expression. I told him about my activism and he said that that is good. ‘That is how we build a nation, together’.

Unfortunately, there has arisen those who would do anything to silence whoever says anything against Barrow and his regime. This is scary. I mean can’t they see the irony here? This is the same thing we accused Yahya Jammeh of, now it’s our turn. Have these people ever heard of being magnanimous in victory?

If anyone finds time to take a pen and write about the current issues, or talk about it openly, it is because he or she loves the country. We may differ with such a person in opinion but at least let us accord him/her the respect he/she deserves. We are all Gambians and no one is more Gambian than the other. We have to have a common goal. Pluralism is indispensable if we are serious about our democratisation process.

Whatever the case, asking someone why he didn’t speak out when Jammeh was here is unfair. Let us try to be objective in our criticisms. If we see an opinion, let us study it carefully before we start lambasting its author. And when we debate, let us talk about the issues rather than the personalities.

Together as one! We have a nation to build!

#TenacityForBetterGambia#

GAMBIA: THE DEVELOPMENT PARADIGMS AND THE WAY FORWARD FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORMS, DECENTRALISATION AND LOCAL DEMOCRACY

July 22, 2017

Author: Abdoukarim Sanneh, London

By Abdoukarim Sanneh, London

Strengthening local government authorities through decentralisation is important in building and nurturing functional and participatory democracy. Gambia is a centralised state since after independence and not much is done to decentralise power through local government reforms to strengthen local democracy, in order to effectively and efficiently response to our community development challenges confronting our country. Coming from 22 years of neo-patrimonial state with unimaginable brutality and narrow space of democratic participation, new Gambia should set of a democratic system base on address issues of equity and social justice and one fundamental pathway towards that reality is through decentralisation and local government reforms agenda.

In many part of developing countries functional and inclusive participatory democracy comes with decentralisation. Decentralisation can be described as the transfer of power from central government to lower levels of government and these took the form of administrative and political decentralisation to enhance effective planning and management of resources, resource allocation and mobilisation, citizen participation and accountability etc.  The aim of this article is to discuss the shortcomings in the implementation of local reforms, the mistakes and setback and the way forward to build a local government system with a development vision that is inclusive, transparent and accountable.

There is constitutional provision for local government administration in the Gambia. Both the 1997 constitution and before that the 1970 constitution in the second and first republic, all maintain  three spheres of government and that is Central Government, Local Government and Traditional Rulers commonly known as chieftaincy and Village Alkalos. The legal framework of the Local government was Local Government Act, 2002 which was passed in the National Assembly on 9th April 2002. This act superseded early Local Government Act (Amended 1984), Local Government (City of Banjul Act (Amended 1988) The Kanifing Municipal Council Act 1991 and the Provinces Act.

There are 7 Local government areas and each of these councils is headed by Chief Executive Officers who role involves managing the affairs of the council and is also the accounting officer. It is also stipulated in the Local Government Act that Central Government provided 25% of the council’s development budgets but no specification is given when that amount of money is due and remit to the council.

During the political transition from Military to Civilian rule in 1996 to early 2000, The Government of the Gambia through UNDP and European Union Technical Assistance came with Decentralisation project that aims to strengthen local democracy with a local government reform agenda, but unfortunately totalitarian and neo-patrimonial regime of Yaya Jammeh and its lukewarm approach was unwilling to widen the space for local democracy through Local Government Reform agenda. Shortly after enacting Local Government Act in April 2002 by the rubberstamp Parliament, the following month May 2002 was the local government election through the quasi democratic process. In the past local government elections all the 7 local government areas are controlled by Former APRC Party except Banjul that elected Independent Mayors such as Pa Sallah Jeng. Mr Jeng even whilst was democratically elected as Independent Mayor of Banjul went through all forms of intimidation and harassment. The judiciary was used as a repressive arm of the government to prosecute him on flimsy and bogus charges obstructing and sabotaging his tenure in office with the aim of making it untenable. This was the beginning of efficiency and mechanisation of Local Government authorities all over the country.

In many part of developed and developing countries, Local Government Administration have gone through democratic reforms. Local Administration in many democracies is not control only by the regime in power but also opposition parties. Many opposition parties use their control local government assemblies as an experimental ground for their development programmes and policies. The Local Government Act 2002 has lot of deficiency that need to be amended. Beyond citizens electing their Local Councillors, there is no section in the Act that enforced systems for community involvement through consultation or reviews in local development action plan. Community involvement in local government decision making should and will always be the focal point for discussion of local problems and for making recommendations to the councils, or find solutions to the problems. It can also be use for mobilising residents of wards in local government areas on self help and development projects and also for educating citizens on their rights and obligations in relation to local government.

There is a serious problem of accountability and transparency in Local Government administration in the Gambia. This can be noticed by ineffectiveness of local government administration in all parts of the country. Today no local government authorities in both urban and rural areas have put in place a schedule weekly or fortnightly or even monthly refuse collection in communities and local markets where taxes are daily collected from people. Local councils apart from 25% subvention that is stipulated in Local Government Act 2002 that should have come from Central Government as budget support, raise revenue from sources compound rate tax, property rates, licences, duty fees and charges, interest, local taxes and fees from local markets etc. But given that there is no mechanism of citizens’ involvement, there is cloud around issues of transparency and accountability in local government finance. What the Government should do is to enforce transparency and accountability and makes it a requirement for all the 7 local government administrations to periodically publish council documents, budgets and accounts, development plans and council meetings to be open to public access. The civil society groups should also be given the capacity to monitor local government service delivery both to strengthen accountability of service providers to the poor and to provide feed back for policy makers .For example in every Local Government in authority is given star rating in rate to service delivery and this system enable to name and shame local government authorities based on the quality of service it provided to tax payers. Apart form that there is Local Government Ombudsman to investigate complaints from the public about the councils.

Local Government reforms in our new emerging democracy will foster not only  decentralisation of power and local democracy but will also enhance effective delivery of service that is either the sole the responsibility of local government authorities,  joint responsibility service with central government or discretionary responsibility. It is about time to move away from the era which Local government is seen only as Tax and revenue collection agency into partners of sustainable development. Ineffectiveness of local government administration in our country had created at a vacuum in addressing social justice in wider areas of social service such as housing, health and social care for the weak and the vulnerable in our society, roads, schools, leisure or community centres etc.

Gambia local government administration needs not only political decentralisation but administrative decentralisation. For example Departments like Community Development and Physical Planning should be transfer to Local Government Areas. Central Government should not have to take community development initiatives that should be delegated as a sole function and responsibility of local government authorities. Spatial land use planning and also development control should be a local government decision. For years, the function of the Department of Physical Planning is enforcement and demolition civil land disputes between individual community and the state. There should be proper administrative and development function of Department of Physical Planning within the local government system. Local Government authorities has no spatial land use master plan in related in housing and land use development which can be subjected to community participation and democratic decision making. Gambia is the only Former British Colony with Land Laws and administration is based on 1948 Town and Country Planning Act of 1948 of England and Wales. Thanks to Sir Philips Bridge (1922-2007) the former Chief Justice of the Gambia who started his assignment in colonial Land Office. He implanted 1948 Land and Country Planning Act of UK into our domestic legislation.  This legislation in England and Wales was purposefully for development control and its enforcement to address the impact of Second World War and its impact land use planning. Most of 1948 Town and Country Planning Act are repealed. England and Wales has democratised it land use decision policy. Spatial land use planning and regulations goes through public consultation and decision making. Gambia Government through administrative decentralisation should disband Department of Physical Planning and place planning laws in local government for democratic decision making of Land Administration.

 

Today Local government authorities in our country for example should have gone into social housing development. This can be like a joint investment with Social Security and Housing to build affordable schemes in all the 7 Local Government Areas which would have increase their revenue/income. Now service sectors where our local government authorities had failed to invest are led to new players such as TAF and Global Property. These actors in our national housing markets are motives and driven with corporate interest of making profit and show no regard about the social impact of their investment, community cohesion, environment and corporate social responsibility.

The Ministry of Local Government and Regions has the responsibility for implementing decentralisation and local government reforms from now towards the next local government election and beyond. Gambia’s local government authorities will not be able to responsive to need of our citizens without proper accountable democratic reforms. In our national pathway to widen the space of democratic governance it is fundamental important for Gambia to reformed its local government administration for the interest of social justice to meet environmental and community development challenges.