Government failing in duties to provide citizens with IDs


The Gambia government is failing in one of its constitutional duties for not providing her citizens with national identity cards (ID) for almost two years now. It is a requirement for every Gambian to be identified by our national identity card and no private organization has the right to provide that important document but the state.
But, now how many Gambians are moving out and about within the country without either national ID card or with an invalid ID? The number is enormous.
In the last two years many of our citizens have reached the age of 18 and are entitled to an ID card but the state cannot provide it for reasons not fully explained.
The reasons are clear as it all boil down to the issue of (contracts) signed and terminated. The government on the 16 June 2016 entered into a contract with Semlex Europe SA to produce National Identity cards; but that contract later got terminated. The termination letter was signed by former permanent sectary Nai Ceesay of Ministry Interior with effect from 25 August same year.
The Semlex company then threatened to sue the government of the Gambia if their contract was not reinstated.
On January 25th 2017 the government by a letter signed by another permanent secretary of the same ministry this time Bulli Dibba wrote to Semlex agreeing in principle that the current government is willing to restore the 2016 contract subject to re-negotiations on certain terms of the contract.
It can be recalled that the Government of the Gambia and Pristine Consulting, a Gambian company entered into agreement for the implementation and production of state of art Biometric National Identity System, Consumables and Associates Services for a period of five years effective from the 20thApril, 2009 to 20th April 2014.
In May 2015, Gambia government through the Ministry of Health signed a new five- year contract with Pristine for the production of electronic birth registration system and certificates as an extension of the GAMBIS project and that contract was signed by the same immigration and not the Ministry of Health.
So there are a whole lot of messy things surrounding the contracts for producing our national ID cards and therefore all contracts should be put on hold pending the outcome of the parliamentary investigations before Semlex can go ahead with the printing as per the new contract awarded.
It will not be wise for our government to re-award Semlex this contract when they are yet to clear their name and integrity.
Government should also come up with a temporary measure where citizens can be given National Identity cards; we cannot remain aliens in our own country. It is the duty and responsibility of the government to provide her citizens with this very important document. Failure to do so, the government is failing in its duty and responsibility. The immigration officials should also be asked to stop asking people their IDs when they know they have not been issuing IDs for almost two years now.


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