Basse-Fatoto road, bridges to address rural-urban imbalance, said President Barrow
The construction of the Basse-Fatoto Highway up to the eastern border of Koina; the bridges in Basse, Fatoto, Chamoi and Suduwol villages will trigger economic growth and prosperity that would help balance the development gaps in The Gambia, President Adama Barrow had said.
President Adama Barrow expressed excitement that the project finally became a reality for the region. The area had endured over 50 years of marginalization. The residents had witnessed long waiting hours and transportation difficulties to travel from the remotest villages in order to access most essential services.
The President laid the foundation stone to mark the beginning of the construction projects in Basse, Upper River Region over the weekend. The lack of “good and adequate roads infrastructure” in the rural Gambia is at the heart of the disparities between rural and urban areas. The President noted that this keeps worsening.
“What we are witnessing therefore today is evidence of the desire of my government to minimize rural-urban drift,” President Barrow told the gathering, where thousands turned up to celebrate the projects.
It is a demonstration of the Barrow government’s desire for inclusiveness in The Gambia. With improved roads networking, he said the search for better educational, health services and facilities, and the creation of booming business environment will improve the economic status of rural residents.
The 47.13-kilometre road, financed through a grant from the People’s Republic of China at $81million (about D4Billion) will take 32 months to complete. It is designed and being constructed by two companies from China, with the third company tasked with supervising the works.
“Too many deaths had occurred here as a result of the bad state of this road. Many also died due to hardships they endured in accessing health facilities when they are in dire need. For over half-century, it was a far-fetched dream to have these roads here. Today, it is no longer a dream but a reality for the people of URR,” said the Minister of Works and Construction, Bai lamin Jobe.
The President was escorted by thousands of youths on foot from his village to Basse. The fanfare and excitement was unprecedented in the region, according to political commentators. Dozens of cultural troops took turn to perform at the event hosted at a village football field just outside of Basse.
A seven-truck salute, using simultaneous horning and firework-like lights filled the air as the President, flanked by the Chinese Ambassador and State officials, laid the foundation stone. President Barrow said it was an election promise he made to the people of URR when he campaign for Presidency in 2016.
“Many towns and villages in this region and the Central River Region have been isolated for ages due to poor infrastructure. Inability to access farmlands, markets, schools and health centres…the lack of inter community connectivity have equally been a worrisome concern to my administration and a discomfort I have always cared about,” President Barrow told the jubilant crowd.
When complete, the two bridges and road will provide vital access to and connectivity for communities, goods and services of Toumana, Basse, Jimara, Kantora and Wuli. It will also provide access to communities in Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Mali and Burkina Faso, and will complement the Laminkotot-Passamass road under construction, and the Trans-Gambia Bridge for January 2019.