Wednesday, March 15, 2017

TransGambia Bridge Project : Now you tell us

At the height of the border closure in 2016, The Gambian delegation to the talks in Dakar led by the then Minister of Foreign Affairs raised the issue of the design of the bridge when the construction of the bridge was about to start or has actually started.  It was public knowledge that Jammeh played politics with the bridge project ever since he seized power in July 1994.  The on-again off-again bridge has resulted in two postponement or stoppages during the mobilization phase.  So it came as a complete surprise to Senegal and Gambia when design objections were raised at the border closure negotiations by the foreign minister which led to the blog post below.

I am republishing this specific blog post first published on 15th May, 2016 to supply context that led to our pre-post of yesterday which has generated interest but unless the genesis of the project is known and its long history studied and appreciated, the complete picture will remain a mystery.


Neneh McDoull-Gaye, Gambia's Foreign Minister

An Appraisal Report of the TransGambia Bridge Project has been in existence at the African Development Bank for nearly two decades, sponsored by Senegal and The Gambia.  This means that the Jammeh regime has been aware and has been a party to its preparation and has signed off on the project's economic, financial and technical feasibility from the start.

After several years of abandonment, it was decided to update the appraisal report.  The process requires that all aspects of the project - economic, financial including costings and technical undergo a thorough review.  That goes for the (technical) design as well.

The reappraisal was done in 2010, Board approval in 2011 and project start-up in 2012 with the full knowledge and active participation of the Jammeh regime and Senegal because it is classified as a regional or multi-national project even though the bridge will be entirely within Gambian territory. The Jammeh regime was involved in all phases of project preparation including loan approval and effective processes.

The extraterritorial character of the project is central to Jammeh's reluctance to sign off on the deal. We have touched on this issue elsewhere which we will revisit at another occasion.  For now, we will stick with other aspects of the projects.

It is only today that Gambia's Foreign Minister is objecting to the design of the bridge which, according to her, obstructs or impedes the navigability of River Gambia, one of Africa's most navigable rivers.  This is, of course, a legitimate concern so fundamental to the entire project that it raises some serious questions. Where were these people 20 years ago or 10 years ago or even 4 years ago to have raised this apparent design flaw and demand design changes to address the clients concerns.

Why is it still hard for some to see why we continue to call for the voluntary resignation of Yaya Jammeh?   The incompetence level of this regime continues to rise at exponential levels with time, an inverse relationship that continues to test the tolerance levels of our politicians at home and the supporters of political change at abroad.  #JammehMustGo