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- Minority Leader disagrees with Finance Minister on road project
- GAMCOTRAP officials to open defence
- GADHOH laments the ‘non-prioritization’ of rehabilitation and integration of the Deaf
In a series of advocacy outreach programme through FM radio Stations, Gambia Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (GADHOH) on Thursday, 16 June, 2011 held a sensitisation programme at City Limit Radio, Kanifing.
The programme’s principal objective is to better inform the public on the situation of the Deaf in The Gambia.
A similar programme was held at the Brikama Community Radio, FMB, in the West Coast of the country on June 16, aimed at addressing the communications barriers between the Deaf and the Hearing.
The programme exhorts the Government and NGOs to step up commitment to put up support programmes for parents of the deaf to learn sign language and put up mechanisms that will help the deaf to be well-informed of treatment procedures during health services; when arrested by the police or appear in court etc.
At City Limit, the Deputy Director of GADHOH Mr. Lamin Ceesay noted that throughout the world, deaf people formed of “cultural minority groups” within societies and as well belongs to a linguistic minority.
“The Deaf Community is regarded as one of the poorest in the world, with nearly half of the working population being unemployed and a larger number of people who are either underemployed or self-employed,” he laments.
The deaf and hard of hearing population in The Gambia are made up of males, females, the young, and the old, and Mr. Ceesay said some of them has lost their hearing in early childhood and others later in life.
He adds that most of them live in hearing families without having access to learn the sign language. “This creates isolation for the individual and they tend to be left out of natural communication and the daily interaction that take place around them.”
According to him, Deaf people suffer victimization and discrimination from society’s prejudicial attitudes and ignorance, and are usually viewed as helpless and dependent, as people with an illness who are in need of care and medical treatment.
However, he stressed that these “negative attitudes” have such a devastating effect on their lives and it has become their biggest problem and rather than the condition of not being able to hear. The way deaf people are treated within the society has left many of them uneducated.
He also stress that “the rehabilitation and integration of Deaf people has never been a priority in the national development agenda, given the overall needs of the people of The Gambia and the country’s scarce resources, the need of Deaf people have never been a main concern.”
- CFCO/KMC holds consultation meeting on disaster risk-reduction
The Children for Children Organization in Banjul, The Gambia in collaboration with the Kanifing Municipal Council Disaster Committee on Friday 17th June, 2011 held a day-long consultation meeting on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) at the Council’s Conference Hall.
The meeting was based on community consultations on DRR inspired by the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), “View from the Frontline Project”. The CFCO has been conducting a series of consultations on this project in various regions of the country, highlighting the challenges, recommendations and way forward on the implementation of the DRR.
The HFA was initiated in January 2005 in Kobe Japan, for the implementation of the DRR within the overall goal of building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters.
Aimed at achieving a substantial reduction of disaster losses (lives, socio-economic and environmental assets of communities and countries) by 2015, the HFA was adopted by 168 member states of the United Nations.
Speaking at the meeting, the CFCO Mr Ibraheem Ceesay said awareness creation is very vital when it come to disaster risk reduction in The Gambia.
He said the people at the local level are at risk when it comes to DRR, with the threat in the rural area higher than that of the urban area, hence, the government should invest more in the rural area than the urban.
However, he was quick to note that findings have shown that the government is doing very well when it comes to disaster risk reduction, its efforts at the local level is low due to lack of funding.
“The HFA is based on five main priorities for action, that is, governance; risk assessment, monitoring and warning; knowledge and education; underlying risk factors; and disaster preparedness and response. In addition, a set of cross-cutting issues also covers a number of areas that are not directly included in the five thematic areas, but will impact the effectiveness of the implementation of the HFA.”
Mr Ceesay explained that View from the Frontline (VFL) 2011 is focused on local governance, as it is critical to effective implementation of policy and provision of resources, leading to the HFA achieving real impact on the ground, where people who are at risk lives, eat and work.
“Building a strong evidence-base to influence public policy facilitates dialogue between civil society and public authorities, helping to strengthen broad-based advocacy coalitions and alliance which enable local voices to be clearly heard within national, regional and international decision-making processes,” he said.
“Local communities and civil society organizations participating in the review process can use the information generated to develop more effective responses to the challenges they identify. It is important that the review process is transparent, consistent and engages key stakeholders in an inclusive participatory process.”
On her part, the Community Development Officer Kanifing Municipality Aja Kassa Kanteh Sanneh, said disaster risk reduction is key and very demanding.
“It requires the efforts of all stakeholders,” she said, commending CFCO for taken this “giant step” of engaging local communities in the implementation of the DRR.
- $12 million to finance UTG project
National Assembly Members (NAMs) in Banjul have ratified two loans agreements: five million US dollars from the OPEC Fund for International Development and seven million US dollars from the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, to finance the University of The Gambia.
The agreements dated February 22, 2011 and April 26, 2011, were tabled before lawmakers by the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Mamburry Njie on Tuesday during the 2nd Legislative Session of the National Assembly.
Seconding the motion, Hon Sulayman Joof, Member for Serrekunda West said the University of The Gambia (UTG) is one of the youngest universities in the sub-region which generated lots of doubts at its initial stage.
“The terms and conditions of the two loans are reasonable and the Government of The Gambia has realized that education is the key to development and that is why it is putting emphasis on education,” he said. “It is only education that can alleviate poverty.”
The Majority Leader and Member for Serrekunda East Hon Fabakary Tombong Jatta said in the absence of a university, how many of our youths will stop at form three, grade 12 or The Gambia College. “We can become a Singapore if we build the human capacity of the nation.”
On his part, Hon Modou L.K Sanneh, Minority Leader and Member for King West said the loan agreements are positive moves, adding that it is incumbent upon the Ministry of Finance to secure the financial resources to fund the university.
“There is noting bad about a country asking for loans for its development,” he said, while noting that the problem lies with the management of such funds. “Many projects in the country have problems in management.”
“We are representing people down there and in any decision we are to take, it should be done keenly. Building a university is not enough, there should be competent lecturers to meet the high standards of education,” he said.
- Were the 30 million street children in Africa born on the streets?
The International Labour Organisation, ILO and the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF estimates that there are 30 million street children in Africa.
During celebrations marking the “Day of the African Child” 2011 on the theme “All Together for Urgent Actions in Favor of Street Children” the Director of Social Welfare Fanta Bai Secka answers whether these children were born on the streets.
“It is common knowledge that no child was born on the streets,” she argued at a joint ceremony organised by the Child Protection Alliance (CPA) and the Voice of the Young on June 16, 2011 at SOS Children’s Village, in Banjul.
She stressed that there is nothing positive that children can learn from the street nor will they enjoy childhood outside the confines of their parents and families.
“The street is simply not a place for children to work or live. Children in The Gambia and countries all over the world deserve to be in school, enjoy childhood and live in an environment that will groom them to become responsible and productive adults, not adults who will be a mere burden to their communities and country,” she said.
She noted that in the Africa, a number of children are increasingly forced to the streets as result of poverty, abuse, torture, rape, abandonment or orphaned by AIDS.
And becoming more vulnerable to all forms of exploitation and inhuman treatment once on the streets, while their ceases to resemble anything like childhood, as defined by the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC).
She said the theme exhorts governments, civil societies, and communities to act decisively by putting in place strong administrative and legislative measures to provide the necessary support for the street children.
Haddy Jonga, the President of the Voice of the Young noted that there has been massive improvement in reducing the number of street children, however, there are hundreds remaining on the streets or spend most of their time on the streets, fending for themselves and contributing their quota to their families daily bread.
Jonga said these children should be reunited with their parents and be given access to the needs due for children.
“As we celebrate the Day of the African Child, it is important to project our minds back to those hundreds of innocent children who lost their lives in the Sharpeville massacre in downtown SOWETO, South Africa during apartheid,” she said.
“These children who were discriminated against lost their lives while demonstrating for the noble cause of demanding to be thought in their own Afrikaner language.”
The Day is commemorated annually to remember the Sharpeville massacre of 1976 in Soweto, South Africa during an uprising of students against the apartheid regime. It is also meant to look into the plight of children in Africa and come up with comprehensive actions to give them a better life.
- Minority Leader disagrees with Finance Minister on road project
The Minority Leader and Member for Kiang West Hon Momodou L.K Sanneh has expressed disagreement with the Minister of Finance Mamburry Njie that the “lack of first class roads is delaying the construction of the much talked about Mandinaba-Jarra Soma Road.
“I cannot agree anymore with the Hon Minister that the lack of first class roads is delaying the finishing of the famous Mandinaba-Jarra Soma road,” Sanneh said on Tuesday during a debate to ratify the loan financing agreement between The Gambia and the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development.
The April 18, 2011 loan, U.A 4, 897, 607 (Four million, eight hundred and ninety seven thousand, six hundred and seven units of Accounts), is equivalent to US$7, 500, 000, which Hon Sanneh admits is a move in the right direction, however, he said Mandinaba- Jarra Soma road is a case for concern for all Gambians. It is meant for the partial financing of the reconstruction and upgrading of the Mandinaba-Soma.
The National Assembly also ratified an April 5, 2011 loan agreement between The Gambia and the Abu Dhabi Fund for the Development of DHS 36.730, 000.00, equaling US $10, 001, 361.00, to finance the Mandinaba- Soma project.
During the 2nd Legislative Session of the National Assembly in the capital, Banjul, Hon Sanneh noted that the plan for the road has already been drawn and it needs to be looked into before a contract is given to the contractor.
“The first phase of the contract for the road was estimated to the tune of $35 million designed for the completion of the road and it was a mission that the construction will last for three year for it to be completed. But from 2005 to now 2011 is six years and still this particular project cannot be completed,” he quarried.
“The delay of this project is a cause for concern. The National Roads Authority (NRA) was established by government and it should be properly funded so that all our engineering and construction work can be better managed by the institution.”
According to him, the component of the project involved huge sums of money which, he believed NRA should benefit from. “We have many Gambians who are engineers and if most of these consultancy and construction works awarded to outsiders was given to Gambians, they will be able to render quality services to our country,” he said.
“We are here ratifying loans on the Mandinaba-Soma road, but I only hope this will be the last time the government will table a loan agreement before lawmakers to ratify on this particular project on behalf of Gambians.”
March 2012 has been set as the completion of the road, however, Hon Sanneh said: “I also hope that this time, the dated set for the completion of the road will be met, because it is very discouraging to see loans being ratified when projects are never completed.”
He argued that without good road network poverty reduction cannot be met. In mitigating poverty, there is the need to build new and quality roads to ease the movement of people, goods and services.
Earlier on, the Finance Minister Mamburry Njie said there was a funding gap for the Mandinaba-Soma road to the tune of almost $17.5 million. “The ministry of finance has been working to mobilize the necessary funds for the completion of road, and fortunately we have succeeded in getting the needed fund for the project,” he said.
He admitted that project commenced in 2005 with an initial construction period of three years. By now the road should have been inaugurated, but again what matters is not to meet the deadline but to ensure that a standard road is achieved.
However, he assured that this time they will make sure that the date and time slated for the completion is realized.
The Member for Wuli West Hon Sidia Jatta noted that people sometimes see themselves as being of no use in this country and eventually they find themselves useless.
He said being an independent sovereign country doesn’t mean you should have a black president, but you must be able to developed your own enterprises to be fully independent.
He admitted that the country has capacity but what is need is to empower them to build their capacity, it still seems that people are not worried when parliament ratifies these huge sums of loans for the government.
“People are always happy when loans are ratified but they tend to forget that these loans are going to be repaid with high interest rates, we should not be happy at all because these loans are incapacitating the country,” he said.
He argued that the huge loans are not sustainable because of the high interest rates and also have a negative impact on our economic development. We have a river full of resources and an ocean full of natural resources, what is preventing the government from investing in this area to create revenue generation and also generate resources for the country and avoid taking heavy loans.
When he took his turn Hon Momodou Sellu Bah of Basse said The Gambia Government should learn from its mistakes. The road project should go with drainage system, because what is happening with the roads in the KMC and WCR is very sympathetic due to the lack of drainage system.
He called on the minister to consider such an important factor in road projects. “The Gambia is good at building projects but very poor in the maintenance aspect.”
He said the government should take the ministry responsible for roads into task together with the National Road Authority to ensure a proper maintenance mechanism of road projects. “The maintenance aspect of projects needs to be given a top priority,” he said.
- GAMCOTRAP officials to open defence
Acting Principal Magistrate Alagbe Taiwo Ade of the Banjul Magistrate Court on Thursday turn down the “no case to answer” submission filed by defence council Amie Bensouda in the theft trial of Dr. Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho.
Magistrate Taiwo ruled that Dr. Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho, the Executive Director and Programme Coordinator of The Gambia Committee Against Harmful Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP) have a case to answer.
The submission by the defence followed the closure of case by the prosecution who had called eight witnesses. They are standing trial on one count of theft, and have denied any wrong doing.
Taiwo said the defence counsel submitted that the prosecution did not prove its case against the accused persons and urges the court to acquit and discharge them.
He indicated that the prosecution also submitted that the accused persons has a case to answer after calling eight witnesses to back their case, and that there is an ample evidence against them and urge the court to order them to open their defence.
“In my opinion, the prosecution has established evidence against the accused persons and they have a case to answer. On that note, I call upon the accused persons to open their defence,” Magistrate Taiwo told the packed court room. The trial continues on 28th June, 2011.
- Hon KK Daffeh on GAMCEL getting own headquarters
The National Assembly Member for Kiang Central Hon Babanding K.K Daffeh on Thursday questioned the Minster of Information, Communication and Infrastructure Mr Alhagie Cham, as to “what plans his Ministry has for GAMCEL to have its own headquarters, having been in existence for ten years, and besides the high cost of rent they undertake.”
In his response, Mr Alhagie Cham said that “GAMTEL and GAMCEL are highly cognizant of the need for GAMCEL to have its own Head Office; and in this regard plans are indeed at an advanced stage for the acquisition of a headquarters for the cellular company in the near future.
The Minister appeared before the National Assembly Members in Banjul on Thursday for questioning in the 2nd Legislative Session of the Assembly. He also answered questions on behalf of the Minister of Energy President Yahya Jammeh.
Asked by Hon Lamin Kebba Jammeh, Member for Illiassa to informed the Assembly when shall NAWEC complete the changing of asbestos pipes in Farafenni which were laid in the 1970s.
Minister Cham admitted that the pipes were laid in the 1970s; however, he adds that over the years, NAWEC has changed a lot of them either during routine maintenance works or repair of damaged pipes.
He said as part of the Rural Water Supply Project last year, 2500 meters of the asbestos pipes were replaced and NAWEC plans to complete the replacement of the pipes by 2012.
- Samsung, Quantum Net meets dealers in Gambia
Samsung, a global electronic producing company and Quantum Net, an Information Communication Technology Company in Banjul on Thursday 16th June 2011 held a partnership conference with their dealers in The Gambia at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.
The purpose of the meeting according to Mr. Ousman Kebbeh, General Manager Quantum Net, is to strengthen relations with their dealers in the country, to help dealers increase their income generation in Samsung products, and present to them Samsung’s new products for 2011.
Mr Muhammed Jah, the Chief Executive Officer of Quantum Net noted his Company has since reached and agreement with Samsung to make easy access of Samsung products to their dealers in The Gambia.
He said the signing of this contract with Samsung will ease the burden on dealers in Samsung products in the country since they will not have to fly to Dubai, United Arab Emirates to buy Samsung products. The price will be affordable, he adds.
Samsung’s Dakar-based representative, Mr. Matarr Lowe said the company was establish in 1969 and today it has 191 offices in 62 countries with 158, 000 employees and is ranked 19 among global businesses.
Mr. Lowe says Samsung manufactures TVs, lap top computers, refrigerators, mobile phones, cameras amongst others, with high quality. Mr. Lowe added that Samsung spent a lot of money in research for new product, and as well offers supports to the areas of health among others.
He said the company registered a record sale of 1.1million mobile phones globally in 2006, increasing to 277 million in 2009.
Zeyratou Mayaki, Samsung’s Representative in Niger, said their retail program has been going on in Senegal and Mail and now it is about to be introduced in The Gambia. She said the Company gives one year warranty on Samsung products, before noting that they will be providing business trainings for dealers when the need arise.
Kombo South inter-village football kicks-off
The organizing committee of the Kombo South District, West Coast Region of The Gambia has commenced an Inter- village Football Tournament comprising of eleven villages on Saturday, June 19, 2011.
“The competition is funded by the eleven participating villages and is geared towards building cordial relationship among the youths in the satellites villages, the recruitment of young players, and a platform for the young players to showcase their talents,” the organisers said.
The draw for the much talked about tournament was done recently at Gunjur village, where the eleven villages were divided into three groups with two made up of four teams and one of three.
Group A consist of Brending, Batokunku, Tanjie and Siffoe; Group B includes Banyaka, Tujereng, Sanyang and Janbur; and Group C comprises of Gunjur, Jambanjelly and Kartong.
The organisers said all games will be play in neutral grounds within district.
“The idea forwarded by organizers is in the right direction as it will provide opportunity for the young talented players from the district who want to take football as their career,” the Coach of Batokunku village Sanna Jatta told The Voice.
According to him, a tournament of this nature is likely to attract football scouts and coaches within The Gambia. This, he said will give players the chance to play in the 1st Division. Football in The Gambia is more concentrated in the urban areas, than in rural areas but believe that people in the rural areas can play better than them.
“For the past years we have seen a village team (Gunjur) from Kombo South reaching the semifinals of the Zonal Tournament. Some of our young players are also playing in the country’s first division league,” Jatta said.
Nema Untied Sana Yaffa blames referee for lost
Sana Yaffa, Coach of Nema United has heap blame on the central referee who oversees his side lost 2-0 to Serrekunda United over the weekend in the Gambia Football Association (GFA) 2nd Division League.
“Both teams played well but the referee did not play well,” he told The Voice on June 18 at the Serrekunda West Mini Stadium during a post-match interview.
“Obviously, we loose the game because of bad decisions from the referee, it’s very hard to swallow but this is football.”
According to him, his side dominated that the second half but they were very unfortunate.
Yaffa’s stance followed a controversial goal awarded to Serrekunda, for which he believe that ball never cross the goal line, contrary to what the assistant referee saw.
Furious about the goal, Nema United goalkeeper Saihou Sonko and midfielder Baboucarr Saho complained bitterly to the referee, who reacted by showing them red.
His opposite number, Pa Lamin Sillah, Coach of Serrekunda United said the decision of the referee was right, arguing that the ball went over the line and it is a goal. “I didn’t know actually what exactly they said to the referee for him to send them off, but our goal, it passes the line and the assistant referee was there to see the action,” Sillah said.
Baboucarr Jallow opened the score Serrekunda United in the 31st minute when he headed home Buya Mboob’s free kick.
Nema united Modou Gaye made a sensible free kick in the 43minute but it denied by goalkeeper Modou Lamin Bittaye.
Nema responded with a 50th minute free kick from Lamin Mambureh which left struggling goalkeeper Modou Lamin Bittaye with no choice but to put it out for a corner kick.
However, all efforts to come back into the game proved futile when Serrekunda United Yusupha Jones scored the second in the 78th minute from a free kick. Nema United goalkeeper Saihou Sonko struggled with the ball towards the goal line, handling the ball twice. However, the Assistant referee Alagie Manneh’s flag was up and he decided the ball had crossed the line.
Nema United went two goals and two men down after midfielder Baboucarr Saho and goalkeeper Saihou Sonko were sent-off in the 78th and 92nd minutes for decent.
- Courtesy of The Voice Newspaper