Alagi Yorro Jallow

People are catching feelings and spitting rage following President Adama Barrow’s Banjul -Barra bridge mega project announcement without National Assembly approval has exposed Adama Barrow’s shady and dodgy political propaganda.

For one, what do you all expect from a sociopath who is brazen enough to tell you that the Gambia ’s biggest threat is corruption and incompetent leadership and thinks it doesn’t apply to him.

As for the $1.5 billion cost of that Banjul- Barra mega bridge project, that’s the least of Gambia’s problems. One of the Gambia’s top sociologist and eminent political scientist Halifa Sallah has been telling you for years that you’ll pay for external debt with your first-born children. The only surprise here is that you’re surprised.

The Gambia government has a mounting debt of $ 1. 2 billion which is equivalent to 58 billion (Dalasi); 52 % of which is coming from external sources and 42 % from domestic lending. These debts according to Mr. Bai Madi Ceesay, the Director of Budget says it represents 122% of Gambia’s GDP owed to creditors and international lending institutions and countries.

But consider this. When Adama took power in 2017, the Gambia’s government incurred a debt of $1 billion, which would amount to 120% of the country’s GDP during the last decade of ex-president Yahya Jammeh’s rule, according to the IMF and World Bank. The IMF currently list the Gambia’s government debt as 99% of GDP, $881 million.

The most recently available figures say that of Gambia’s government debt, around 54% is owed outside the country, and 46% within Gambia. This would mean that of $1 billion of debt, $540 million is owed externally and $460 million domestically.

The most recent figures from the World Bank and IMF are that Gambia’s government external debt is $467 million. Of this: $349 million is owed to multilateral institutions such as the World Bank, IMF, and African Development Bank, $112 million is owed to other governments, $6 million is owed to private creditors.

Total debt of the nation stands at about $1.9 billion, about the same net worth for the former President Jammeh. In 5 years, the debt is in trillion and counting. This year, the government will borrow supplementary of $2 billion just to keep the lights on.

The question you should all be asking is what you have got for 1.2 trillion in 5 years. Fuel prices are rising, millions live hand to mouth with most not even having 100 dalasis in their name that they can rub together, the health and education systems are not fit for purpose, state coffers are being looted left right and center.

If you think the Gambia will ever be capable of paying that debt while your great grand-children are still alive, then clearly, you’ve stepped out of your damn mind and lost your senses.

No, the Chinese and the government are not your problem. The country is a basket case. Nothing is going to change until people have absolutely nothing else to lose. When they’ve stolen everything from you, they’re going to come for the clothes on your back and grab the food from your child’s mouth.

Nothing will change until you realize that even if you line up along the mega project bridge desperate to eat this bridge they keep harping on about, the lions and hyenas will be right next to you also looking for something to eat.

There’s all this talk about manufacturing; affordable housing; food security and affordable health care. More like the big mega projects to eat from before the lights go out. If you think it’s a joke, ask yourself why Fatoumatta have now diversified from providing mobile health clinics to providing affordable housing.

In 5 years, our politicians will orchestrate a theft bigger than any government has in the last 50 years, including that of the original thief in Equatorial Guninea. No, the Chinese are not our problem.