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HomeGambia NewsGAMBIA: THE GAMBIA IS NOT READY TO HOST THE OIC EVENT

GAMBIA: THE GAMBIA IS NOT READY TO HOST THE OIC EVENT

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The Gambia is not ready to host the OIC event. This fact should be obvious to anyone. To see this clearly, we should consider all the components that should constitute a successful international event of this magnitude. It is not clear to the Barrow administration that hosting an international event is not the same as overseeing a traditional naming ceremony. To say that a country has successfully host an event, it is not enough that the dignitaries show up, speeches were delivered and eventually everyone disperses peacefully. Successful hosting of an international event has to meet certain standards, and those have already been set by numerous countries well before The Gambia was chosen for this event.

Let’s have a look at the infrastructure. As of the writing of this article, the main roads that were supposed to be showcased and used as part of the OIC event are still under construction. The fact that this main highway is still incomplete as the conference gets underway is a major failure. The government had years to complete this major road but could not deliver. In any country where there are actual standards, the ministers responsible would be holding their heads in shame, after having resigned or sacked. Unfortunately for us, key implicated ministers such as Ebrima Sillah are still going about as if the arrival of the conference date is a lifetime achievement event.

Not only are the key pieces of infrastructure incomplete, they have been badly designed. I have written previously about the absence of good design features such as pedestrian crossings, limited intersection and numerous choke points. In addition to that, the drainage system along the main OIC road is not directing water to any particular direction, but would simply be collecting the water along the road. Come the rainy season, we will be faced with the sides of the road that are not only full of stagnant water but the bad designed of the gutters will make most areas of the roads impassable to pedestrians.

The ancillary roads such as those in Brufut, Wullingkama and Bijilo are even farther behind schedule than the main OIC road. There are sections of the Brufut/Wullingkama roads where the construction crews for the contractors have not been seen for months. Indeed, there are major sections of the roads where people are facing daily trouble getting out of their compounds and neighborhoods because the company doing the construction is proceeding with the work with no regards to the needs of the residents. Despite the obvious flaws, the president indicated that he is satisfied with the state of the work. How out of touch is President Adama Barrow?

The fact that the Bijilo roads is far from complete while the conference is about to take place is an indication how little weight this government puts on the struggles of ordinary people. That road is supposed to provide an important alternative route as the stretch of the road from the airport to the Senegambia area would be restricted when the conference is underway. It also turns out that the Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure has been more than negligent not only about the timely completion of the Bijilo road but also the timely compensation of people who properties were affected.

What about the fleet of expensive and luxury vehicles purchased for the event? According to the press reports, almost 100 vehicles were purchased by the government. A purchase of a large number of luxurious vehicles for a 2-day event makes no sense. One has to think about what to do with those vehicles after the event has ended. Given this government’s track record, one can be certain that there has not been any planning for what to do with those vehicles. Like numerous cases of waste of resources that we cannot afford, the fate of the vehicles will be quietly swept under the rug but not before the country unnecessarily incurs a large cost.

As the article was being drafted, the vicinities around the conference venue and hotels are being cleaned and cleared of bushes and grass. These things are being done only a mere few days before an event that has been talked about years in advance. Undoubtedly, there will be numerous other simple tasks that would be overlooked in such a rush. It is simply impossible to successfully host an event when such basic activities that should have been carried out months ago are being rushed at essentially the last minute.

What this also means is that there will be no rehearsal that would provide organizers a proper dry-running of the event. This is essential for any successful hosting of even minor events. This allows organizers to carry out proper coordination, ensure that various segments are well timed, anticipate challenges that will inevitably come up during the event and ensure that technical mishaps are avoided, among others.

To understand why this government is unprepared for an event of this magnitude, please note that the even the Independence Day celebration is poorly handled when it comes to managing the attendance of dignitaries. And that is an event that we have been holding every single year since 1965. Yet the logistics of handling and guiding senior public officials and other dignitaries during the annual Independence Day events are poorly handled.

President Barrow recently indicated that the OIC event will put the Gambia on the map. Unfortunately, countries can be put “on the map” for all sorts of wrong reasons. After all, there is no shortage of countries making the news in an unflattering light. Unfortunately for us, President Barrow showed how out of his depths he was when he compared our country’s hosting of the OIC meeting with Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup. Qatar spent billions of dollars to hold an event in a part of the world where it has never been hosted. The gulf between the scale of the FIFA World Cup and the OIC event is almost as big as the gulf between Qatar’s level of preparedness and The Gambia’s. Barrow’s ill-conceived comparison of our country with Qatar is reminiscent of Jammeh’s plan for our country becoming the West African Dubai, or President Jawara’s older aspiration of the Gambia being the Singapore of West Africa. So, it turns out that when the rare occasions comes that President Barrow chooses to learn a lesson, he picks the wrong one.

Putting all these issues together, it is clear that Adama Barrow’s government is not ready to host this international event. And this is embarrassing given the fact that this government had many years to prepare for the event. What is going to transpire is easy to predict. The event will take place and the attendees will come and go. Given the low standards of the Adama Barrow regime, that will be enough for this government to proclaim the event a major success.

What will be completely skipped by the government would be poor quality of the onsite and offside logistics, as well as poor coordination due to the absence of rehearsals. President Barrow himself will be oblivious to many of these failures because those responsible will have every incentive to claim otherwise. Diplomatic niceties will prevent any foreign attendees from publicly saying anything negative, which will be used by our incompetent ministers to shout even louder about the purported success of the event. In reality, the event will be stuck in the minds of the many foreign attendees for the wrong reasons because they cannot help but compare this with the way similar events were held in other countries.

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