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GAMBIA: WHO’S TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE ON THE ISSUE OF THE INCOMPLETE CONSTRUCTION OF THE MINI STADIUM?

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As reported a week ago, on the 31st of July 2023 by the Fatu Network (FN) online News outlet, Minister Bakary Badjie, Ministry of Youth & Sports issued an injunction setting a 31st of July deadline for the contractors to complete the construction of the rest of the Mini Football Stadiums across the country or their contracts would be terminated.

According to FN, The Ministry of Youths and Sports contracted the construction of the Six Mini Football Stadiums Project across the different regions of the country to the construction companies in January 2021, with a Six Months contract period for the completion of the construction before the 2021 elections.

Based on the report of the FN, only one Mini Football Stadium (The Jaalafaa mini-stadium in Kiang Manduar) has been completed.

The Kafuta and Fulabantang, Mini Football Stadiums contracts have already been terminated.

The contracts of the other three Mini Football Stadiums in connection with which The ministerial ultimatum was issued are the Janjangbureh mini-stadium (CRR), Diabugu mini-stadium (URR), and Bwiam mini-stadium (WCR).

FN reported that during Minister Badjie’S field visit to the project sites three weeks ago, the works were still incomplete, to the dissatisfaction of the ministry. The Fatu Network promised to follow up later to know the Ministry’s final decision.

We wish to approach the report from the accountability angle by putting the following questions to the Minister of Youth and Sport Bakary Badje and expect answers for transparency and accountability. We will need to establish those who bear the greatest responsibility for the failure of the projects because they are a massive failure and a significant loss to public funds and damage to our community’s grassroots football development goals. Six projects were launched, but only one has been completed, and all are long overdue.

LET US START WITH THE GENESIS:

1. Who was responsible for drafting the contract for the Six Mini Football Stadiums? Was it practically feasible for the agreement to be executed in six months? Why specify a short period for the completion of the projects? Was it that the government intended to use the commissioning of the Stadiums as part of the 2021 presidential elections propaganda?

2. Who were the people responsible for the awarding of the contracts? How was the project awarded to the selected contractors? Did the chosen contractors get vetted using a competent matrix to determine their ability to deliver the contracts? Was the contract agreement written to protect the ministry’s interest in case of default of the contractors?

3. Who are the consultants chosen to oversee the delivery of the projects? Have the consultants failed to produce timely progress reports during the period agreed? If they issued timely progress reports, the red flags in them should have alerted Minister Badjie such that he would have adopted timely corrective measures rather than wait for almost two years after the completion deadline of the project period to issue an injunction. If the consultants failed in their oversight responsibilities, what punitive actions did the Youth Sports Minster take against them to recover the cost of damage done? 

4. what financial loss does the public incur? What are the Overall economic losses and the delay and damage done to developing grassroots football talent? What measures will be taken to recover the funds, and what other sanctions will be meted out against the consultants and construction companies that failed to deliver their services? For example, banning them from bidding for public procurement?

5. How is the Ministry of Youth and Sport going to complete the overdue projects, based on a time frame?

Finally, will Minster Badjie tackle these probing questions or accept full responsibility for his ministry to provide adequate oversight for the timely delivery of the projects?

What do our readers believe are the reasons behind the failure to deliver the Mini Football Stadium Projects? Who are those to be held accountable for the loss and damages? Should the minister and the project manager resign? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Article contributed by Sulayman Ben Suwareh 07/08/2023!

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