So far, we know that a contract has been signed to remedy Gambia’s electricity nightmares. When Barrow spoke to the BBC in Freetown, he said it should stabilize in six months and a permanent solution, will follow in two years.
No details were given. This is not very transparent by any measure. The “electricity situation” is a public concern, and if a contract is signed on behalf of the citizens, the details of that contract should be shared with the public.
The people have a right to know.: What is the nature of this contract, and what is the scope of work? Are we getting our money’s worth?
Mr. Barrow also said that investors are knocking on his door and a lot of investment is coming to Gambia. I hope the government is doing their utmost due diligence in investigating the companies they already signed contracts with, and the ones currently knocking on Barrow’s door.
Their track record must be vigorously checked. Companies exploit governments all the time, and sometimes with the help of unscrupulous local businessmen who recommend these companies and act as the middleman.
Amadou Samba, Muhammed Bazzi and Tarek Musa come to mind; or it could just be a case of these companies looking to pull a “bait and switch” on a vulnerable or inexperienced government.
Time and time again, we have seen African governments sign unfavorable contracts and receive a sub-par product at the end. The Banjul sewage project in the mid-eighties is a perfect example.
In that contract, SOBEA, the French company that handled the project used inferior materials and had no obligation under their contract to fix the roads back to their previous condition; and we all know what happened to the Banjul streets after that.
The government should make the bidding process and the contracts public in the name of transparency. The people have the right to know and due diligence is a must.