BY ALMAMO KAMASO
In our this week’s interview of the week, Chairman Malamin I. L Bojang a Masters holder in public administration, with a vast experience in the field of teaching under the education department of the Gambia is our guest. He taught in many schools and rose to the rank of Senior Education Office before he finally joins and contested in partisan politics. Bojang is a native of Buniado in the North Bank Region where he is the elected Chairman today.
In this exclusive interview with Chairman Bojang he spoke of his challenges and some progresses he and his team of councilors effected in terms of development. Bojang, however lamented that his major frustrations is cause by no other partners but government departments and institutions who duplicate some of their development efforts, by by-passing council and going to the communities.
Below is the full interview in a question and answer format:
Daily News: You were elected as Chairman of the North Bank Region (NBR) in 2017, can you tell our readers your major challenges as Chairman of this vast region called NBR?
Chairman: My major challenges as a Chairman at the moment is the way, local government decentralization of projects in my region is faring. Bojang said the entry point for any development should be the local councils, if one is to avoid duplication of efforts. He went further to say them as a council who have structures from district to village level should have been the first port of entry by any department of partners. Chairman Bojang said most of the time, government departments will just go straight to the villages without consulting them. He gave an example of Daruslam village in his region, where one government department went and wanted to dig a borehole for them and found that council have already provided them with one , only for them to come to his office and say they wanted to provide the community with a bore hole only for them to realize that council already provided one. This he said are the kind of things they confront and such will only be a duplication of efforts.
Daily News: Asked about the Local government Act?
Chairman: Bojang told the Daily News that the Act has disempowered them in some areas, citing where the some of their powers were taken from them and given to others to implement, such as Forest Act, which give powers to Forestry to charge those who cut the trees and the monies are paid to Forestry department, and that in any way is not going to deter deforestation. Bojang say due to some of these shot falls we are facing , and that there are erosions in some of our communities, leaving huge gullies.
Daily News: Asked what about monies due to Council?
Chairman: He complained that some of the monies due to them, do not reach them on time, there is a lot of delay and untimely payments of such Bojang such late payments affects their development projects that councils plans to effect in their communities.
Daily News: Asked what if there are anything affecting their revenue bases?
Chairman: Chairman Bojang, said, the Kerewan Area Council (KAC) is made handicapped by the seizure of their main legitimate sources of income. He said before, his council gets a lot of income from taxes such as cattle taxes, car park taxes and many others. “Today we are not collecting theses taxes” Bojang said
Bojang further disclosed that most of their taxes have been taken away from them. Listing these taxes taken from Council are; GLMA which has taken away cattle tax, GRA also taken some of their taxes and Geology has also taken sand mining taxes, leaving them with not enough taxes to collect.
He added that some of the institutions, also have not been paying their royalties and this has given them a lot of problems in other to embark on development projects
Daily News: Asked if there are no NGOs partnering with his Council?
Chairman: Bojang said as for the NGOs, there are only three NGOs serving the whole region, with a population of over 250,000 people. This is so because of the crossing, which hampers a lot NGOs to operate in the NBR.
Daily News: Asked if COVID-19 has any negative impact on the people
Chairman: Chairman Bojang told the thrice weekly newspaper that COVID has a very serious and negative impact on the livelihood of his people. The weekly markets are shut down and that left his people without markets for their vegetables products. He told the paper that farmers’ ground-nuts are ripe but barely there is any market for them.
Daily News: When the Chairman was asked as to what are some of the major constrain, particularly water?
Chairman: Bojang told the Daily News that access to clean water is a big challenge. He said the water table is really very low, and in most cases the people use animals to draw water from wells. He also highlighted that most road conditions are very poor.
Daily News: Asked if government is paying subventions?
Chairman: He replied in the positive, governments are paying subventions but we need to run after them and many a time the payments come late.
Daily News: Can you tell our readers what would you have considered a success story?
Chairman: I was able to buy 7 motor cycles for tax collectors, A vehicle was bought for the Chairman, three communities were provided with lighten systems, Bara market was rehabilitated, waste management at Yeli tenda, and a total of 17 bore hole were sank and one community gardens. Chairman Bojang said his council has constructed a Guest House at Farafenni as an additional revenue source.
Daily News: What’s the way forward for Kerewan Area Council?
Chairman: He said he and his council are grateful to the UNDP and a Turkish NGO for their fruitful partnership. Bojang concluded by calling on the government to lift ban on the LUMOs. Chairman Bojang said the LUMOs are the only available market for our farmers. The LUMOs also serve as a source of trading as some middlemen take goods from big shops and retail the item out of which they too survive.
Daily News: Thank you Chairman Bojang for being available to us
Chairman: Thank you too.