By Our Western Division Correspondent Wise Man.
Paid For and Commissioned by the Freedom Newspaper.

The Chairman of the Brikama Area Council Ousman Gaye, in a interview with the Freedom Newspaper, confirmed that about D25Million Dalasis has gone missing at their Council, while insisting that they would continue to impose water fees to the inhabitants of the locality. Gaye who was interviewed in his office by this reporter, cited  an Audit report ,which uncovered “the missing millions” at the Brikama Area Council.

Our Western Division Chief Correspondent Wise Man met Mr.Gaye at his office Monday Morning, where the Chairman was taken to task regarding the water crisis in Brikama, which is seemingly creating unrest in that part of the Gambia. Reporter Wise Man first introduced himself as a representative of a media house, before the interview proper started.

Mr.Gaye, who appeared composed, focused and determined to answer to the Freedom Newspaper’s enquiries said “his council took the decision to impose water bills on the people of Brikama” due to lack of funds to run council activities. He also cited the unpaid Council arrears on the side of the inhabitants. This he observed, was undermining council activities. When put to him that his council lacked funds due to corruption related activities and as such had embarked on imposing “exorbitant water bills” on the people of Brikama, Gaye used the interview to clear his image from any wrong doing.  He however intimated that “Bala Musa Cham, the CEO of the Council, Fafa Kuyateh, the then accountant, Papa Cham, a collector at Karcum sand mining near Sanyang village, in Kombo Central, were linked to such official graft.” Gaye said his team inherited a “big mess” at the Brikama Area Council, but due to his leadership role things were  changing for the better.

When quizzed as to what proof he had to back up his claim that these named officials were engaged in corruption, Gaye said thanks to intelligence report gathered by the authorities, these individuals were identified. The Brikama Council Chairman said official probe into these named officials past activities revealed  about an “ excessive corruption and abuse of office” during the period in question. Gaye says the sand mining deal has been going on for the past three years. He says his Council would not condone such activities, which could cause economic loss to the state.

Mr.Gaye says the newly introduced water bills in Brikama was intended to keep the Council’s  developmental activities running smoothly. He said the water bills introduced by the Council were “reasonable.”  According to the Chairman, residents would be paying monthly water bills in order  to  have access to water supply.

Electricity has been a rare thing to come by in Brikama. The Community suffered from constant “black out.“ But the Council’s offices enjoyed uninterrupted water and electricity supply. When asked how comes that the Council can enjoy light, when the inhabitants cannot have electricity, Gaye said his Council needs money to keep it  projects running. He said people need to pay their bills on time, if they really want better services.

When further asked how comes that the Kombo Coastal Road streets lights were working and yet Brikama’s street lights were out of service, Gaye remarked ”That question is above my level. You need to ask the people on  the top.”

Meanwhile, shortly after the interview, our Correspondent sounded the opinions of Brikama youths, who vowed not to pay water bills to the Council. The angry youths accused the Council of “exploitation” and unfair treatment of the inhabitants of the area. Daru youths said they cannot pay tax to the council and water bills at the same time. They urged the Chairman to reverse the said decision, which they say was not in the general interest of Brikama Town. The youths  vowed to demonstrate in days to come to vent their anger against the  Council’s water bills.

Posted on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 (Archive on Tuesday, July 24, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI
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