TAT Investigates the Fate of Over Two million Dollars Incomplete Kuntaur Philanthropic Projects

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Photo Archive: Foundation Stone Laying for the Million-Dollar Projects in Kuntaur

By: Kebba Ansu Manneh 

The inhabitants of Kuntaur, located in the north-central region of The Gambia, are growing increasingly apprehensive about the two-million-dollar philanthropic housing and water projects designated for the development of their community. These initiatives are financed by the governments of the United Arab Emirates and China.

The Alkamba Times’ in-depth investigations revealed troubling allegations of widespread corruption involving the contractors. According to the community, the contractors reportedly conspired with authorities to obstruct implementing a crucial project to provide sustainable housing units and water infrastructure.

The findings from TAT investigations indicate that the contractors did not follow through with implementing the project plans for the community of Kuntaur in the Central River Region despite the project’s inauguration in 2020.

The two projects, sponsored by the Chinese Embassy and Bin Kalipha Foundation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have a total value of one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) and two million five hundred thousand dollars ($2.5 million), equivalent to over 50 million dalasis. However, they have not been completed due to allegations of corruption with the project authorities and contractors, much to the disappointment of the people of Kuntaur.

TAT findings revealed that the water project sponsored by the Chinese Embassy was contracted to Lerr Group, which subcontracted the project to Gam-Solar. The project has not been completed to the community’s satisfaction, and the community is experiencing severe water shortages even after the contractor allegedly told community leaders that work has been completed.

The Kuntaur community has expressed concerns regarding the housing project, which is purported to deliver a minimum of twenty-three (23) homes to families impacted by flooding. Additionally, the construction of three bridges and a 2.5km dyke in Kuntaur is reportedly still unfinished.

Sources informed the TAT investigation team that the housing project, funded by the Bin Khalifa Foundation of the UAE and worth millions of dalasis, contracted to the Sillah Construction Company owned by the former National Assembly Member Niani Alhagie Sillah, has not been completed as planned, resulting in leaks in some houses during rainfall.

Numerous residents and local authorities in Kuntaur have voiced their dissatisfaction with the projects intended to deliver suitable housing and water supply to the village. They hold the Gambian Government, National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), Lerr Group, Gam-Solar Company, and Sillah Construction Company responsible for the shortcomings of these multi-million dalasi initiatives.

Doudu Joof, the Alkalo of Kuntaur, informed TAT that following the severe floods that impacted the community in 2018, the Chinese Embassy and the Qatari Fund stepped in to assist with water and housing projects. He noted that the Chinese Embassy contributed one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) to the community water project, while the Bin Kalid Foundation provided two million and five hundred thousand dalasis ($2.5 million) for the construction of twenty-three (23) houses and a dyke for the community.

He indicates that both projects remain incomplete and must be finalized and delivered to the Kuntaur community.

Despite the community expressing their concerns to the project contractors, further efforts are necessary to resolve the outstanding issues associated with the projects, exacerbating the challenges the beneficiaries face.

He disclosed that the water pipes installed by Gam-Solar in the Kuntaur community are small and unable to withstand the water pressure supplied to the area. He also mentioned that despite raising this concern with the contractor, Lerr Group, and Gam-Solar, there has been no resolution, resulting in continuous ruptures of the pipes in the community.

He also mentioned that the housing project has failed to meet the community’s expectations, as it has not produced the desired outcomes for the impacted families, who persistently report leakages.

TAT Investigations also revealed that the Sillah Construction Company, which is in charge of building the houses, has not constructed the dyke that was supposed to be part of the housing project.

He disclosed that the Community Leaders of Kuntaur have exhausted all efforts to compel the contractors to finish their work without success. Furthermore, he stated that whenever problems related to the projects emerge, the residents of Kuntaur, including those living abroad, must gather resources to resolve the issues since the contractors have ignored their appeals.

Musa Jobe, the Chairman of the Village Development Committee in Kuntaur, has echoed similar concerns regarding the water and housing projects. He urges the Gambian Government to intervene and ensure that contractors complete these projects to benefit Kuntaur’s residents, who face challenges with water supply and adequate housing.

 Despite the resolution of disputes over the dyke’s construction between Kuntaur and Jakaba, the contractor has not commenced work on the dyke, which is designated to prevent flooding in the residents’ compounds.

The Chairman of the VDC has appealed to the government to guarantee the completion of the projects, expressing the community’s disappointment over the water and housing projects remaining incomplete since 2020.

As of this publication, TAT has attempted to engage in discussions with Lerr Group and Sillah Construction Company, but no progress has been made. 

However, TAT managed to speak with the manager of Gam-Solar Company, who promised to get back to us. However, after several follow-ups, TAT is still awaiting a response.

“We are in dialogue about the facts with NDMA and will soon meet with the Kuntaur VDC and the Alkalo. This will be arranged after the Eid,” Hans Noteboom, Gam-Solar, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), told TAT. 

He added, ” After we agree on the next steps, I will inform you, or you can contact me in about two weeks.”

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