The National Roads Authority (NRA) must explain how or where it spent some D85 million which was meant to be spent on road maintenance.
The NRA, on October 4, 2012, appeared before the National Assembly select committees responsible for scrutinizing the performance and financial status of government institution, the Public Accounts and Public Enterprise Committees (PAC/PEC).
The Committees doubts the credibility and feasibility of the reports submitted to it by the NRA, which they said contains numerous unanswered questions.
“I don't think it is feasible for us to adopt the reports because more than 53 questions directed by the honorable members were not substantially answered satisfactorily,” stressed Hon. Abdoulie Bojang, the Speaker of the National Assembly.
Bojang exhorted the management and board of NRA to rework on the report to provide answers to the questions raised by the select committees.
According to Hon. Lamin K Jammeh, member for Illiasa constituency, D100 million was requested for road maintenance for the year (2011) but the report indicates only D15 million was spent.
“So where is the remaining D85 million? That is a question that needs to be answered by the NRA,” Hon Jammeh said.
The NRA had been blamed by lawmakers in the last adjournment debate of September 25, 2012, for its un-fancied work in Banjul.
"The joint committee had told NRA to build quality roads and not to build many roads without any quality. We have to know the realities on the ground before coming with designing road projects,” stressed Hon. Alhagie Sillah, member for Banjul North constituency.
He lamented the poor conditions of the sewage and drainage systems in the capital, and calls for a multilateral approach to resolve the dilemma by involving stakeholders into the show.
Meanwhile, the outspoken member for Kombo Central constituency, Hon. Buba Ayi Sanneh, was not convinced with the response of the NRA officials about the “ramshackle” conditions of roads contracted by the institution.
“Something need to been done,” Hon. Seedy Njie, a nominated member, demanded. “All the roads are affected; I don't see any road in the country that lasted for more than 5 years. What is NRA doing?”
Mr. Abdoulie Camara, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works Construction and Infrastructure, tried to explain to the joint committee the NRA’s “numerous constraints.” The greatest of which is “financial,” he said.
He blamed the deplorable conditions of roads on heavy duty vehicles plying Gambia-Senegal, suggesting the need for parliament’s support for legislation on the issue.
Mr. Momodou Senghore, acting Managing Director NRA, recommended for the Road Transport Policy to introduce “road user charges” to enhance the road fund, which he believes would address the present maintenance backlog.
He also corroborated the permanent secretary’s concerns for control of vehicle overload to avoid premature failure of road pavements.
Mr. Senghore also highlighted the steady increase of recruitment in the institution for more technical staff during the period under review and also mentions the need to focus on road maintenance to ensure investments in the road sector are fully protected.
“80 percent of the primary road network would have been upgraded to bituminous standard when the Basse-Vellingara road project is completed in 2013,” he projected.
The NRA’s activities mainly involve monitoring and supervision of development and road maintenance projects.