By Sailu Bah
As part of the activities of the 20th Anniversary of the July 22nd Celebration, the new National Assembly building was inaugurated on Sunday 12th October 2014 in Banjul. The building was built by Sapooji Polonji, an Indian company. The cost of the building is 26 million dollars and is funded by the Indian government.
In his welcoming remarks, the Mayor of Banjul, Abdoulie Bah, welcomed all dignitaries present at the occasion, and said the building is beautiful as it is just at the entrance of the city of Banjul.
“I and the Banjulians are very much willing to continue to support all your efforts to the development of the country,” he said. He said for 430 years of both colonial and first republic they did not have a national assembly like this one” explained Abdoulie Bah.
Chairman of the building company, Alif Jandani, in his statement thanked the president on his own behalf and all his crew. “It is indeed very difficult to build a structure like this. We have faced lots of difficulties in laying the foundation of the building but with major engineering skills we were able to make it,” he noted. He said all the equipment in the building is modern. He said they worked with Gambians who run most of the equipment used for building the complex.
“We really enjoyed the Gambia, because we have made lots of friends and we hope the friendship between the Gambia and India stays on” he expressed.
The Indian ambassador to the Gambia expressed his sincere appreciation for being associated with this occasion. He said this building is a symbol of strong friendship between the Gambia and India.
“India is also part of the modern world technology, 2 to 3years back, about 40 to 50 Gambians went to India to study different fields, which I believe will help a lot in strengthening the development of the country,” He opined.
A one minute silence was observed for the Indians who were part of the construction of the building and passed away.
Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Ousman Badjie on his behalf said this iconic structure was initiated on 26th July 2010. He said young Gambian engineers were attached to the building when the construction was on, and they would be permanently taking care of the technical facilities in the building.
He explained that the building has a modern Library with good facilities. “I am thanking Saapoji Polonji for their hard work, office of the president, my ministry, ministry of finance, National Assembly and all stakeholders who were part of the task force,” He announced.
Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairman of the Task force Committee of the New building, Hon. Abdoulie Bojang said this is the first National assembly built by the Gambia Government. He said a task force was established to coordinate and supervise the construction of the building, and part of that task force is Office of the President, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Works, Transport and infrastructure and the National Assembly.”
“A bid was made based on certain criteria on the 28th Oct 2014, and 3 designs were presented and this current building was chosen and approved by the president of the republic of the Gambia,” he informed.
He said that the building has a waiting room, Majority Leaders office, Speakers office, Deputy Speaker’s office and a conference chamber that can accommodate more than 400 people. He said there are many other rooms equipped with modern technology equipment. He added that the building can accommodate both international and National conferences.
President Jammeh, in his inaugural statement, said among other things that he is honored to preside over the inauguration of another significant development in the history of the Gambia.
“What ever I do, I do it out of conviction but not to please people. NAMs are representatives of the people and they should have a conducive environment with a good peace of mind to be able to represent their people to the fullest,” noted the president.
He said he should blame himself for the late completion of the building and added that the $ 5 million was not enough and the cost rose to $26 million.
He took the opportunity to thank the government of India for their support and revealed that there were lots of challenges during the construction of the building, but it was finally accomplished.
He announced that his office will be responsible for supervising all buildings constructed by government to see whether the buildings are maintained properly.