Lawmakers Get Keys to Their Luxurious Vehicles worth over D2 Million

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By Fatou Dahaba

Members of the Gambia National Assembly on Friday, August 18th, 2023, despite the public outrage over purchasing a luxurious 2023 Toyota Prado model vehicle, were handed over the keys of the exotic cars at the National premises in Banjul.

The National Assembly procured the scheme vehicles through CFAO Motors Gambia. Fifty-eight vehicles were procured at D2.5 million for each, wherein the Gambia government will pay half. At the same time, Members are responsible for financing the remaining half cost of the car, over D1.2 million, during their five tenures from their salaries.

The controversial luxurious vehicle scheme has triggered a public outcry over the price of the vehicles that will be paid for by taxpayers. Considering the various challenges Gambians face, many believed the national assembly could procure a less expensive car (1 million) for NAMs that would not cost taxpayers much.

However, speaking at the handing-over ceremony, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Fabakary Tombong Jatta, said the vehicles were acquired out of necessity and not procured for luxury.

He said over the years,  Members have had significant challenges in commuting to national assembly chambers for sittings, thus resulting in a lack of quorum or a late start.

He added that these challenges have greatly affected Members in the execution of their duties and responsibilities. According to him, through these challenges, the mobility scheme will address so that the parliamentarians can honor the social contract with the Gambian people as described by law.

Jatta acknowledged that he is aware of the public concern regarding the provision of the mobility scheme for members of the national assembly.

However, he assured the public that due process was followed and the best value for money was achieved.

Speaker Jatta further stressed that members partly fund the vehicles, and the maintenance, fuel, and running cost is entirely on members.

“For Hon. Members to operate independently, they require the necessary tools to execute their role effectively and efficiently. Such vehicles will bring NAMs closer to their people in all aspects of their legislative work. With this development, members will be punctual during sittings,” he explained.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Seedy Keita, said this initiative came about through the partnership between the legislature and the executive to enhance and improve the working condition of the national assembly.

He also stressed that the vehicles are not for luxury. Still, ‘an investment in the service delivery that the people have in them, and they’re sure to enhance the working condition of NAMs, their role as people’s representatives will be better delivered.’
“We believe this mobility should make close interaction between the national assembly and their representative so that the view of the grassroots can be better reflected in the legislature and the society at Large.”

Momodou Sise, Clerk of the National Assembly, said the initiative represents a great accomplishment and vindication of strategic thinking, careful planning, and diligent execution of their responsibility as national assembly service.

He said this is the first time in the history of the Gambia National Assembly to officially accord its members mobility to expand their outreach and enhance one of their mandates, which is representation.

“We have followed the due process of law to ensure transparency, accountability, and value for money; the vehicle was sourced through an open tender with a very competitive vetting process. All documents were processed and approved by the procurement authority.”

Mrs. Nikiema of CFAO Motors Gambia reassured members that their commitment goes beyond delivering the vehicles, and they remain available to assist them with technical support.

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