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Thursday, 31 January 2013 23:33(JollofNews) – Omar Amadou Jallow of the Gambia’s Peoples’ Progressive Party (PPP) has called on President Yahya Jammeh to reconsider his decision to alter the working days and hours of the country’s civil service.
Under the changes that are coming into force on Friday, the country's civil servants will work from Monday to Thursday from 8am to 6pm while Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be dedicated for prayers, social activities and agriculture.
But in an interview with JollofNews, ‘OJ’ Jallow who is on a visit to the United Kingdom said he finds it really ludicrous that Mr Jammeh has taken the decision to change the country’s working hours without even bothering to hold a national consultation particularly with the National Assembly.
“This is the most the ludicrous things I have ever heard,” he said. “This is a tacit demonstration of the total control of power and resources by one individual in the Gambia and I think every sane Gambian will be against this decision.”
Mr Jallow added that changing the working hours of the Gambian civil service from 8am to 6pm will destabilised a lot of families in the country.
He said: “We all know how difficult the transport system in the Gambia is particularly with the destruction of the GPTC by this government, which was one of the best public transport systems in the continent. I am therefore appealing to the government particularly the cabinet to start an engagement with the President for him to rescind this decision. It does not augur well for the Gambian people and the country’s economy.
“The economy of every country in the world depends on the work output of its people. The productivity of the people is important for the economic growth and social stability of every society. People are looking at extending their working hours instead of reducing it. If all major economies are growing because of the hard work of their people, why is a developing country like ours that relies heavily on foreign aid making our people work less hours?
“We want Africa to be independent but we will never be independent without being economically independent and we will never be economically independent if we are not ready to work hard and take control of the development of our country. The decision to change the working days and hours is not correct and should be rescinded.”
Reacting to the President claims that giving civil servants an extra day off will allow them to ‘grow what they eat and eat what they grow as a healthy nation,” Mr Jallow, who was Agriculture minister in the deposed PPP government of Sir Dawda Jawara said the country’s declining agriculture will not regain its glory days unless the Jammeh regime put in place a comprehensive agriculture policy, which would enhance and increase the agricultural base of the economy.
Mr Jallow said: “Sometimes I don’t understand the real people who are advising President Jammeh. The Gambia and surrounding countries have always been agricultural countries well before our grandparents were born. It is the responsibility of governments to put in place policies that enhance and increase the agricultural base of their economy.
“We have all realised that the agriculture productivity of the Gambia has been declining since President Jammeh came to power. The cultivation of rice, cotton and groundnut has fallen drastically because of the decisions of the Jammeh regime to discard the policies and projects I signed while I was Agriculture minister.
“In my last trade season as Agriculture minister, the Gambia produced over 100,000 tons of groundnut and so many thousand tons of rice and cotton. But last year, we couldn’t even get 30, 000 tons of groundnuts in The Gambia. Whether that is an improvement in agriculture is left for the Gambian people to decide.”
Mr Jallow added that instead of encouraging villagers in the country to abandon their farms and work on the President’s farm in Kanilai, the Jammeh regime should reinstitute the Gambia Cooperative Union, which would help poor farmers in the country to have access to equipment and fertilisers to improve their farming and economic wellbeing.
“I have never visited Sir Dawda’s farm in Banjulnding throughout my tenure as Agriculture minister because I don’t think I had any business on his farm. My duty as Agriculture minister was to help Gambian farmers and not the president. That was why the agricultural mission of the government was to improve agricultural production and livelihood of the farming community. That is why the cooperative movement had an important role to play.”
Written by PK Jarju
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