It all started when Alhagie Birri Birri Njie, an APRC stalwart, Banjul political operative and former international soccer star, stood up to draw attention to the deplorable state of the capital city's road that are rendered impassable, especially during the rainy season.
Birri Birri also drew the attention of the Gambian dictator of the dysfunctional drainage and sewerage system that has plagued the city since 1994. The pumping station (photos) completed in 1952 after the Banjul floods in 1947 that killed hundreds of the city's residents, has served the city well while the levee system worked. But it has unfortunately fallen into disrepair, with two of the three pumps missing and the remaining one inoperable, according to findings of a recent study. The levee is stuck in an upward position, allows raw sewer to flow into the streets of Banjul during the rainy season further threatening the health of the general public.
The island capital city of Banjul is very vulnerable to sea level rises - and it has been so appropriately designated by the United Nations. The city is 1 meter above sea level. If there is a corresponding 1 meter rise in sea level, Banjul will be under water. Another example, the highway linking the island to the southern half of the country is estimated now to be less than 10 meters from the high water mark and at the current rate of erosion, the highway will be cut off from the city within a period of five years.
Banjul's problems are real, urgent and life-threatening - problems that Birri Birri highlighted during his brief speech at the Banjul rally. From the speeches by the Mayor of Banjul who offered his full support to the prospective APRC presidential candidate - even though the Mayor was elected as an Independent - to the one by Mr. O. B. Conateh who appeared to be admonishing Alhagie Birri Birri Njie for putting emphasis on the dilapidated road infrastructure unbefitting a capital city instead of the new Parliament Building - ironically threatened by the same dysfunctional Bund Road levee system - and Arch-22.
It is obviously embarrassing for the bastion of A(F)PRC support since 1994 to have been abandoned by Yaya Jammeh as the infrastructure of the city seem to indicate which did not prevent Mayor Lie Bah, an Independent candidate at the last elections - from promising an opposing politician - Yaya Jammeh - a 99.5% vote margin in the 2016 presidential election.
Jammeh's response to the pleas and pledges of his followers has been brief and to the point. Instead of offering solutions to the real problems facing the city and 33,000 residents, Jammeh responded rudely by telling Banjulians to their faces that he owes them nothing because he felt betrayed by them. It was unclear in what sense. The rest of his speech was about skin bleaching and other social ills which he promised to eradicate indicating where his priorities are. It is now up to Banjulians to decide whether, after the Banjul rally, this man is worthy of their continued support because he has clearly indicated his intention to allow Banjul to sink, literally and figuratively.