By Lamin Jahateh, Banjul
National Assembly Member for Kiang Central Babanding K.K. Daffeh has suggested the Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure to consider merging GAMPOST Agency and GAMCEL, the national GSM operator, as one public enterprise “so as to increase their revenue base, services and delivery”.
Hon. Daffeh made this suggestion on Wednesday at the National Assembly in Banjul during the question-and-session of the fourth meeting of the National Assembly in the 2010 legislative year, which is also known as the budget session. During these sessions parliamentarians put across to ministers various issues of national concern.
Responding to the question of the Kiang Central Parliamentarian, the Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure, Hon. Alhagie Pic: Minister of Information and Communication infrastructure, Hon. Alhagie Cham
Cham, said: “The amalgamation of Gampost and Gamcel is an idea which Government does not wish to consider because both Institutions are performing as expected under their current set up.”
Both Gamcel and Gampost are profitable and are financing their operations from internally generated revenues.
Hon. Momodou L.K. Sanneh, National Assembly Member for Kiang West, also said: “Could the Hon Minister for Information and Communication Infrastructure inform this august body what Gamtel is doing about the expansion project for the installation of telephone lines for new settlement that are in need of the telephone.”
The Information and Communication Infrastructure Minister told the legislative body that Gamtel has made a decision to replace its existing obsolete switches and transmission networks to a Next General Network (NGN) to enable the company introduce new products and services.
“Gamtel is in the process of awarding the contract which is expected to be completed within 18 months from signing,” Hon. Cham said.
He said when the project is completed Gamtel will expand its network and connect many more customers including those in new settlements.
Hon. Abdoulie Saine, NAM for Banjul Central, asked the Interior Minister how much revenue has been realised from the fines for the use of mobile phones by drivers while driving as well as failure to use seat belts by drivers and passengers.
Responding on behalf of the Interior Minister, who was absent at the parliament, Hon. Sheriff Gomez, Minister of Youths and Sports said the revenue collected from fines for the use of mobile phones while driving, and failure to use seat belts is paid into a special account at the Central Bank of The Gambia.
He said records have shown that two hundred and twenty two thousand seven hundred dalasis (D222, 700.00) have been realized from the said fines. “Please note that the amount is from January to 23rd November 2010,” he explained.
At its second meeting in the 2008 Legislative year, the National Assembly amended the Motor Traffic Act, prohibiting the use of mobile phones while driving in traffic and driving in traffic without a seat belt.
Under the revised Act, a person who uses or talks on a mobile phone when driving on a road commits an offence. But if the person uses a hands-free phone set whilst both hands are on the steering wheel, he or she is not liable for any offence.
The Act also prohibits the driving of a motor vehicle on a road unless the person is fastened to a seat belt. It shall also be an offence under the Act for a person driving a motor vehicle to have in the front seat of the vehicle a passenger who is not restrained by a seat belt.
Consequently, any person who contravenes the use of mobile phone while driving shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction shall be liable to a fine of not less than D2, 500 and a fine of D1000 and not more than D1,500 for any person who contravenes the mandatory use of seat belt.