Decades of wear, tear, and insufficient investment has already caught up with the Gambia’s island capital, Banjul. The city’s infrastructure is completely broken.
Simply put it, the small West African nation’s capital is so decapitated stagnant water after rains look like small lakes and clogged gutters leave behind hazardous smells.
Banjul looked better and cleaner under British colonial rule than it did after it gained independence. Strikingly, it leaves it to the conclusion that the real root cause of the cities infrastructure and sanitation problem is governance.
The city has been neglected by both the Council and the state government. No one needs a special study to provide a revealing look into the challenges the nation’s capital face.
Banjul’s elite rulers ignored basic key principles to improve the growing fractured structures. They were self-serving and waited for elections to give handouts.
This self-centered governance has been entrenched for more than half a century and left on autopilot, making it perpetual.
But in a new and rapidly changing Gambia, the people of Banjul are realizing that yesterday’s solutions of handouts create today’s and tomorrow’s problems.
Governance issues are more difficult in this country because of the way the government is set up, fueling corruption and inadequate investment.
Banjul is in such a bad shape that visiting head of states from other nations are kept in the Kombo Metropolitan area instead of ushering them into the State House.
Driving into Banjul, one does not have to be an expert to classify its roads as being in a “poor” or “marginal” condition—largely below the standard of “good repair.”
Banjulians are heading to the polls next year and going with them to cast their ballots in a rule: It’s high time Banjul’s leaders—from all levels of government—made rebuilding their infrastructure and waste management a priority.
They are closely looking at the plans those seeking their votes for the mayorship have to rebuild the capital and restore its glory.
A new infrastructure in Banjul would create jobs, boost its economy, improve mobility and strengthen its communities.
Banjul had a vibrant nightlife, but these days, the city is getting deserted. It descends into quietness as government offices close for the day and the sun sinks into the Atlantic.
Other cities outside Banjul are facing similar challenges addressing its waste management and infrastructure needs while trying to maintain and improve existing services.
The collective refusal to rebuild Banjul’s infrastructure is depriving its economy of millions of dollars a year, money the city can’t afford to watch disappear any longer.
Investing in the city’s infrastructure is expected to bring millions to the economy—and enhance Banjul’s competitiveness relative to other cities in Western Africa.
As next year’s mayoral elections approach, it’s heartening for Banjulians to hear candidates talk about the city’s infrastructure and sanitation crisis.
But the capital city needs action embedded in a plan that is realistic and achievable with sufficient solutions that can provide short-term remedies and prepare the city to meet future goals and challenges.