By Muhammad Bah
Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Mr. Abdou Kolley, on Wednesday, 17th June 2015, told the National Assembly that a credit finance instrument was signed with the Export-Import Bank of India on 29th October 2014 for an amount of USD22,500,000 to fund the project for the replacement of Asbestos water pipes with UPVC pipes in the Greater Banjul Area in Gambia.
He said currently NAWEC has a total distribution network of about 517km of which about 45km are aged asbestos pipes, some of which were laid 60 years ago with its health concerns for consuming water through them. He said they have proposed to change the entire water distribution and transmission networks having AC pipes throughout the country.
The finance and economic affairs minister told parliament that the realization of this project would meet the country’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and up to 2046 water demands for the GBA.
“When completed the project shall deliver safe and portable water to the consumers in the project area,” he said.
Mr. Kolley told deputies that the loan is a highly concessional lending terms in line with government of The Gambia borrowing requirements.
He therefore called on them to consider and ratify this credit financing agreement between the republic of the Gambia and the Export-Import Bank of India.
Hon. Alhagie Sillah, National Assembly Member (NAM) for Banjul North, seconded the motion. He said the justification for this loan is a simple one, adding that before the country could cure its citizen on cancer it is good that it prevents them from having it. He noted the health hazards that asbestos water pipes can cause to consumers. He concluded by thanking the government for the project.
Hon. Ba Fai SaidyKhan, NAM for Jarra East, in his contribution, said this project needs to be taken with great care by those implementing it. He said they should do the job on time and rightly, stressing that the loans are to be paid by both the current and future generations.
After going through the debate, the loan agreement was finally ratified by the Committee of the whole House.