Gambia’s government has allocated Fiat Chrysler Toro trucks to all members of Parliament, the first time official vehicles have been given to legislators in the country’s more than half a century history.
The Fiat Toro pickups were handed over to the Speaker of the House, Mariam Jack Denton on Friday by the Minister of Tourism, Hamat Bah on behalf of President Adama Barrow.
Gambian lawmakers have always struggled to travel between the National Assembly and their constituency. Members have never been prioritized, although a majority are from the ruling party.
“We used to go to government offices looking for abandoned cars as if we are looking for scrap metals. The government had no regard for the Parliament,” Bah said.
The allocation of official vehicles to National Assembly Members, for the most part, have been welcomed by both opposition and government supporters.
The vehicles, they say, would help legislators perform their work with their constituents effectively and help enhance their technical capacity.
However, some critics have pushed back at the government’s decisions. The money used to finance the vehicle, according to them, should have been invested into addressing critical urgent needs like healthcare.
Gambians hope the vehicles will be used for official functions and not anything outside that boundary after government promised to fuel and maintenance them.
Pro-democracy campaigners have vowed to pay a closer attention to Parliament to ensure that these vehicles do not influence them to becoming a rubber stamp legislature.