With Fatou Dahaba
What do we have at Banjul City Council?
Welcome to the second edition of the interview as we closely look at the Banjul City Council the capital of The Gambia which is headed by a female mayor. In this edition we will look at some of her achievements and challenges as well as her success stories. Rohey Malick Lowe is the first female mayoress in Banjul and Gambia in general. She told us the activities of Banjul City Council.
Banjul since its founding has been the capital of The Gambia and the commercial gateway to the sub-region. As such Banjul is the seat of supreme authority in the Gambia be that Executive, Legislative or judiciary. The city hosts the official headquarters of all the three branches of government. Banjul is also home to our only seaport and most important historical national institutions from Antiquities, education, healthcare, and maritime.
As a successful entrepreneur-businesswoman for that matter, she pledge to use her business experience particularly the entrepreneurial skills she learn and used over the years to help transform this beautiful small city into a modern one that all Gambians can be proud of again. She hope to do this by harnessing all the different resource available to them.
She said women are key contributors to the Banjul city council. She said they are involved at all levels in both the private and public sectors. Women are major driving force in the private sector. They are the backbone of private sector businesses ranging from street vendors, market retail, to medium-size business enterprises she remarked.
Mayoress Lowe cited that under her leadership women are not left behind noting the deputy CEO is a woman while the record office is also headed by a woman these women she described as women of substance who have done great work for the council. She added that there was no deputy CEO and record office before her time.
RAFELA the organization of the locally elected women is headed by the lord Mayoress herself, an organization aim at empowering women economically, morally as well to fight gender base violence. REFELA just come to the Gambia for the first time under her leadership and she never regrets contesting as mayoress instead grateful to be elected as the first female Mayoress in the history.
Mayoress Lowe stated that in her early days in office she inaugurated a tax force committee that helps her in restructuring the council which lasted for about 6 to 7 months and this was her ultimate vision. She said with this proper restructuring it help them to get rid of political activities in the council and political matters those not bother the present council. She alluded that she wants to see Banjul like Abuja which means she only achieves 5 percent of that goal.
There were only 25 security officers at BCC before she took over and presently they have recruited 45 youth to security personnel for the council who are well train and fully equip. And all this geared towards complementing the efforts of BCC and 50 percent salary increment even though government told them not to but they manage to do it. Part of the restructuring they give rightful position to those that were not promoted and reinforce the procurement office, build toilets in the market and abattoir in the market to reduce price of meat in Banjul.
Under her leadership two fully equip ambulances were giving to the City Council by philanthropist in Belgium through their Oustan link. The first one was giving to the hospital while the recent one was giving to Banjul Red Cross society to help the community of Banjul.
Banjul City Council has been granted 3.157 million Euro equivalent of D195 million by the European Union (EU) under her dynamic leadership. The grant is to support the various projects run by the council. The Lord Majoress told Daily News that the grant will cover facilitating the implementation of good governance in Banjul, support a more effective and environmentally friendly waste management and sustainable greening the city by utilizing local resources.
The council has built toilets in the market and abattoir to curb the price of meat in Banjul.
Mayoress Lowe stated that her council has implemented a program called Youth for Excellency which is a package for youth and is about 22 million dalasi. She added that EU fund will also address issues related to young people as youth empowerment continues to be high on her agenda.
Currently the council is building a multimillion youth center for the youths of Banjul which is a project of its own. According to her counterpart payment has been done through GAMworks. The center is built at the Campama mental home and the work is underway.
Subvention is one of the major challenges local government are facing within the Gambian. The Mayor lamented that government is not giving subvention regularly and 25 percent of their development fund should come from government. She in this condition it’s difficult to manage the affaires of the council as they entirely depend on revenue and Banjul is small compared to KMC and WCR.
The city Mayoress said waste management another constrain her council face and this she describe as a global problem. She said part of the EU funding will address waste management as they will buy trucks and PPEs for workers and other facilities as well noting the fund will help a lot as it’s like a supplementary budget to BCC.
She added that her council survives from rates and license and most people in Banjul don’t pay their rates but still want their garbage to be collected and requesting social amenities this she said cannot be achieve if people fail to pay rates and other things to the council. She noted that failure to pay taxes and rates this development will be slow and retarded.
Managing and presiding over council meetings , the Mayoress expressed that she don’t have a big problem at her council as they disagree to agree adding that sometimes even their own party councilors tends to be more difficult than other councilors. “Councilors are not the one doing the job they are policy makers but rather the job is done by the administration they implement on the policies.”
She argued that her political status is also a major challenge as the executive are on the other side and she is on the side and this hinders a lot in their leadership.
Rohey Malick Lowe highlighted that her office in partnership with CSOs is also collaborating with the hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic and do a massive cleaning up service for the community of Banjul. They have also fumigated all schools, mosques, churches and the as well the sanitarium and prisons.
Love by many especial women Rohey Malick Lowe is the daughter of Malick Lowe one time a Mayor in Banjul. She was born and brought up in Banjul. She started work in the hotel industry as food and beverage controller later travel to Sweden where she attended Fallum University and come back in 2016 and get into politics. While in she was a nominated councilor a position she serve for four years and part of a committee responsible for overseeing the affairs of lower basic school.
According to her she won the election because there was a strong team behind her who campaign with dignity and won with dignity. She said during campaign the bulling and stereotyping were too much on her team but that is what make her strong and strengthen her to look for what she wanted to become which is the first female mayor in Banjul and Gambia in general and this was achieve by her.
She said her team was vindicated because they thought she was the best candidate for the part while others thought that her opponents where the best.