I am not one of those people who think the Gambia shouldn’t host the African Union summit. Au contraire. What I have issues with is the governments indulgence in building structures that are not necessary for the successful implementation of the summit at the expense of more pressing infrastuctural needs such as the Brikama-Basse highway.
The goverment spent $5.5 million to build fifty two villas for visiting heads of states. I will argue that these heads of state could stay at the numerous hotels, pay their bills and in the process contribute to the economy of the host country. But Yahya will have none of that and in the pursuit of grandeur and infantile economic thought, he decided to spend that much money to build villas for a two day summit. Here is a snapshot of the villas.
The condition of Roads in the Gambia are horrible. The Brikama -Basse highway has become a nightmare for travellers. The Government spent a little over 2.5 million dollars to construct the Essau- Kerewan road(a 52Km road on the north bank).It is safe to say that 5.5 million dollars will go along way in alleviating the suffering of travellers along the Brikama -Basse route without causing any significant hardship to the heads of state coming to the Gambia for the AU summit. The Gambia have enough Four and Five star hotels to cater to their needs for the two day event. The economic impact of a reliable road infrastructure cannot be over emphasis. The prices of goods will go down significantly for starters. You don’t have to be an economist to know that but alas dictators prefer grandeur to economic sense. See below a snapshot of road conditions in the Gambia and tell me if you don’t think the money would have been better utilise fixing them.
And this one in the heart of Serrekunda…the largest city in the Gambia
The Gambia is a sovereign member of the African Union and as such is entitled to host its heads of state summit. However it will be helpful if the government went about it in a way that makes economic sense. In my humble opinion it went about it in an irresponsible manner as far as those villas are concerned.