President Adama Barrow

(JollofNews) – President Adama Borrow has given assurance to the people of his home region, Upper River Region, that better must come stating that he will deliver on his campaign promises to transform lives and the landscape of the region.

Speaking in Bakadaji, Fatoto, Sabi and Diabugu, President Barrow informed URR people that major agro-initiatives and infrastructural work designed for the region has already kicked into motion.

President Barrow decried that the region has been neglected for far too long: “I am a citizen of this region, first, and despite being a President, I can never be better than my origins. I cannot change that,” he told the gathering. Given that the region’s economic base is primarily agriculture, the President told them that efforts are underway to bring back the glorious days of the region as the food basket of the country.

“In three weeks, a team of French officials will be in URR for initial consultations and site visits to kick-start a mega agricultural project. In the 1970s, URR had several mix farming centres spread across the region that trained over a thousand of youths. Now, none of those existed,” he reminded them.

President Barrow promised these mixed farming centres will be revived as part of the national development plan in a bid to empower young people to venture into agro-business and entrepreneurship. Expanding on the operational mechanisms of the scheme, the President revealed that graduates from the agric training centers would be empowered with technical support and start-up resources to initiate their own value-addition ventures.

In terms of infrastructural development for the region, President announced a $100Million road and bridge construction projects for Basse-Fatoto-Koina Highway and the Basse-Wuli and Fatoto-Passamance crossing points, respectively. He added that implementation of the said projects will begin in 2018, announcing that just a few days ago, the Chinese Ambassador to The Gambia was at his hometown in Mankamang Kunda to present the final plan for the project.

All of these projects would come on the heels of ongoing major development undertakings: the multi-million dollar Lamin Koto-Wuli-Pasamass road construction – soon to be finished, and the electricity expansion project, under which Basse and the surrounding villages currently enjoy a constant electricity supply. The projects would open the region to commerce and improve communication in the region, and with countries in the subregion.

In Fatoto, he urged the people to be patient with the new government since 22 years of dictatorship has retarded the country by 50 years. The President told the Fatoto meeting that not much has changed since he first visited the area in 1996, while the wife was on posting in the area as a teacher. The dilapidated nature of the road meant that a donkey cart had to be used to escort him from the river crossing into the village. He added that the horrendous experience informs his desire to make life better for the people. “Of all the candidates that contested the presidential elections, I was the only one that came as far as Fatoto. The rest avoided the area due to the poor condition of roads’’. Despite losing in the area during the presidential election, President Barrow said that would not stop him from bringing development in the area since he is a president for all Gambians.

Minister of Agriculture, Lamin N. Dibba told URR that the government is on the right track citing the National Development Plan (NDP) as the development manual that will deliver the country out of want and poverty and caters to all regions. The blueprint will guide the government in rebuilding foundations and rectifying the ills of the 22 years dictatorship.

Given that agriculture is the economic base of the region, he informed them that the government, in collaboration with the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation has distributed 40 tonnes of maize seeds, 40 tonnes of cow peas, 40 tons each of upland and low land rice seeds for farmers in the region to use. Additionally, the National Seeds Secretariat is also providing 150 tonnes of groundnut, and another 37 tonnes of certified seeds – meant for selected farmers for multiplication.

The President spent three nights in Basse, travelling to its remotest areas. He was talking with residents about their problems and government solutions put in place for them. The tour continues in the CRR and LRR on Monday.