By Adama Tine
As The Gambia prepares for the December 2021 presidential elections, President Adama Barrow has said that it rests on all categories of leaders and influential persons, especially the leadership of political parties to preach peace and stability for another cycle of free, fair, and transparent elections.
Delivering his State of the Nation address on Thursday at the National Assembly, President Barrow called for Gambian citizens be be allowed to vote for the candidates of their choice without pressure or hindrance.
“I ask the security personnel to be more vigilant than ever and ensure that the rule of law prevails. It is a duty on everyone to fight the criminals in the country, and a collective responsibility to stop every form of injustice,” he said.
He said the dissenting voices in a democracy contribute to success if taken into consideration for positive action. He added that this has helped him immensely as a statesman and a democrat.
Barrow appealed for people’s sense of civic responsibility, as genuine patriotic citizens committed to democratic principles and values, to give the nation their utmost.
“Let our citizenship rights, blood, and social ties, religious faith, goodwill, and love for family and nation unite us. Indeed, our common values should oblige us to work together in the best interest of the country,” he further said.
As Gambians, Barrow advised that we must be sensitive to the pain, sorrows, and desires of those around us, and work towards making life easy and comfortable for every one of us.
Barrow also revealed that the drilling component of FAR-PETRONAS is now scheduled for 2021. He also stated that British Petroleum (BP) announced a significant policy shift of reducing their exploration activities worldwide. He added that his government had reached a settlement with BP for their work plan commitments in Block A.
“Based on this, 30.25 Million US Dollars have been paid to the Government as compensation for not fulfilling their obligation to drill a well as per the license agreement. BP is expected to also settle the outstanding rental fees and contributions to the Training and Resource Fund. With these settlements from BP, Block A1 is back on the market for licensing to interested investors,” he stated.
Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, President Barrow reiterated that the electricity sub-sector registered tremendous improvements on production capacity while adding that the power rental agreement with KARPOWER and the completion of the 11 megawatts Kotu expansion project have remarkably boosted NAWEC’s ability to operate.
He continued that through NAWEC, his government had secured a concessional loan of $22.5 Million from the Indian line of credit for the Electricity Expansion and Rehabilitation Project in the Greater Banjul Area.
President Barrow highlighted that parts of North Bank Region (NBR) and Lower River Region (LRR) now enjoy a stable electricity supply. As part of the final phase of the Rural Electricity Expansion Project, Barrow continued that NAWEC has finally linked the Bansang and Basse sub-systems.
“Under the World Bank-supported electricity access project, ECOREAP, 171 communities will be connected to the network. In the same vein, under the African Development Bank-supported project, about 59 rural and peri-urban communities will have access to electricity,” according to him.
The president said NAWEC has successfully utilized funds acquired from the Indian line of credit to increase water production and replace 144 kilometers of asbestos pipes throughout the country.
He said the Gambia National Petroleum Company (GNPC) has launched its renewable energy project, adding that the project is aligned with the National Renewable Energy Policy for various services, mainly for rural settlements.