By Saikou Suwareh Jabai
At a Press Conference held by the Peoples Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism at their Office in Churchills town on Wednesday June 18, 2014, the Secretary General of the PDOIS Party Mr. Halifa Sallah presented the following document to the Press spelling out an electoral contract his party had with the rural communities.
PDOIS ELECTORAL CONTRACT WITH THE VILLAGERS FOR THE 2016-2018 ELECTORAL CYCLE
NO FALSE ELECTORAL PROMISES
The thousands who welcomed the PDOIS entourage and accompanied us from the outskirts of the village to the meeting place at the launching of PDOIS AGENDA 2016 at Barrow Kunda, URR and the thousands of villagers who turned up to grace the occasion at our rally in Jahanka , CRR who were led by exuberant youths riding horses and motor bicycles have compelled PDOIS to initiate a new tool for electoral accountability so that the people would not pin their enthusiasm and support on false hope. This is the basis of this electoral contract which stipulates a time bound programme to address the urgent needs of communities.
2 THE POTENTIALS AND NEEDS
Being traumatised by the sheer sight of the callous hands of the women who pound with pestles to process food for daily consumption instead of using labour saving devices to reduce drudgery and further draw water from wells between 33 and 67 metres deep for drinking, cooking, laundry and for watering their animals on a daily basis, thus negating any meaningful gardening activities;
Being shocked by the predicament of border villages like Jahanka whose population increase in size on weekly market days but rely on a neighbouring village in Senegal to have access to water, thus depriving the villagers of proper sanitation and subjecting them to deprivation which restrict them from having water to even perform ablution in their mosque;
Further taking note that in addition to the difficulty in accessing clean drinking water, villages like Barrow Kunda and Jahanka do not have proper health facilities and motorable feeder roads which link them to major high ways
Having been convinced by the villagers that those engaged in crop production cannot afford to purchase fertiliser at a cost of over 1000 Dalasis per bag and are also faced with marketing challenges which also affect the vegetable producers and the fruit producers;
Being fully convinced that without the required inputs such as fertiliser, seeds and farm implements all agricultural policy is doomed to failure;
Being further convinced that inadequacy of water supply is an additional hindrance to vegetable and livestock production and that herders are also experiencing difficulty with finding gracing land and adequate veterinary services ;
Recognising that those who have the competence to establish fisheries cooperatives lack capital and inputs;
Having been fully convinced by the villagers that inadequate access to production inputs, water, motorable feeder roads, labour saving devices, appropriate technology for processing and markets are major fetters to their socioeconomic development;
Taking note of the huge potential of the cooperative banking and cooperative marketing sectors as means of ensuring sustainable access to both production inputs and markets;
Alerting our minds to the fact that public corporations could best divest from the hotel industry where Social Security alone had earlier invested over 400 Million to purchase and refurbish Ocean Bay Hotel and further reinvest such funds in a cooperative banking scheme for the development of cooperative agriculture and processing;
In this regard, PDOIS hereby undertakes to carry out the following measures if given a mandate to manage the affairs of the country:
A. Within one month of the establishment of a PDOIS administration:
i) Establish a Commission on Urban and Rural Development to map out the developmental priorities of the rural and urban dwellers and advise government on the priority policies, programmes and projects which should be undertaken aimed at putting an end to all major threats to general welfare and ensure the balanced and proportionate development of all communities;
ii) Establish a task force to identify all villages where market days are held in order to make concrete strategic development plans and time bound projects to enable them to be connected to motorable feeder roads and major high ways and have appropriate health and water facilities within a time frame of 6 months to 2 years;
iii) Document and establish a priority list for accessing pumping devices to guarantee access to clean drinking water and labour saving devices for villages which do not have such facilities and those which require villagers to draw water from wells that are between 10 to 67 metres deep.
B. Within Three Months of a PDOIS:
i) Establish a Joint Border Commission for socio economic development comprising Gambian and Senegalese experts with the view to access the socioeconomic linkages of villagers bordering Senegal and Gambia in order to harmonise plans, programmes and projects which would facilitate the balance and proportionate development of such villages with a view to preventing the spill over effect of populations due to imbalance in development by ensuring that they enjoy equal political, social, economic, cultural and ecological rights and thus enhance the free movement of people, goods and services without any adverse effect on either side.
C. Within six months to three years of a PDOIS administration:
i) Ensure that all villages have access to clean drinking water and labour saving devices to free women from associated drudgery;
ii) Ensure that all small villages have minor health centres and further encourage the Red Cross to have presence in all villages to engage village youths in health and other social support services to improve the health and social service delivery systems of villages;
ii) Ensure that each major village has a Major health Centre, proper and reliable sources of clean drinking water and a 10 year free and compulsory upper Basic School and motorable roads linked to a major highway;
iii) Ensure that each District has a District Hospital and at least one Senior Public Secondary School and District capital for the promotion of developmental activities in the area;
iv) Ensure that all Regions have referral hospitals and Major Tertiary Educational institutions.
D. Within a year of PDOIS administration:
i) Establish a cooperative banking and marketing institution which shall have the following objectives:
a) Provide all family farms with adequate fertilizer, seeds and farm inputs; ensure the marketing of the produce and guarantee access to fair income mutually determined by the producers and the Cooperative marketing institution.
Initiate the use of appropriate technology to link groundnut and sesame production with edible oil production which attracted 457 Million dalasis worth of imports in 2007.
b) Provide vegetable gardens with water, fences, appropriate fertilizer and other inputs, market their produce and guarantee the producers fair income;
Initiate the use of appropriate technology to process vegetables into value added products like Tomato paste which attracted 121 Million dalasis worth of imports in 2007;
c) Establish appropriate transportation facilities for the purchase of fruits, ensure their marketing and guarantee fair income to the producers.
Initiate appropriate technology for the production of fruit juice to add value and
d) Provide cattle owners with adequate sources of fodder, water and appropriate veterinary services, markets and guaranteed access to fair income;
-Initiate appropriate technology for the production of milk which attracted 149 Million dalasis worth of imports in 2007;
e) Gather experienced seafarers and ex officers of the navy into a fishing cooperative and provide them with appropriate fishing trawlers and markets;
f) Initiate appropriate technology for processing fish products.
If the PDOIS leadership breaches this contract the electorate should sever relation with the party and seek for a better alternative.
For The Central Committee
17 June 2014