suggests Dida Halake
Some ten years ago, on a journey from Kotu to Koina, I stopped at Mansakonko for lunch and admired the lush vegetation and the hospitable people of this part of The Gambia.
The debate over the poor state of Gambia’s current capital, Banjul, has brought Mansakonko and Jarra Soma where I spent the night to mind. Put bluntly, The Gambia’s new government should, I humbly suggest, consider Jarra, where there is plenty of land and ready educated manpower, for the new capital of The Gambia.
The government of Nigeria moved the independent country’s capital to Abuja so that the capital city would easily be accessible to all of the people of the country.
Mwalimu’s government in Tanzania moved the capital to Dodoma for the same reason.
In Ethiopia, Addis Ababa is strategically in the centre of country and is accessible to its large and diverse population.
In The Gambia’s sister republic of Sierra Leone, the state of the old capital city, Freetown, calls for a relocation of the capital to Makeni.
Jarra has many advantages for a capital city. There is plenty of land to design and build a modern city from scratch.
Jarra is right at the centre of The Gambia – so the capital city will be accessible from each end of the country within 3 to 4 hours drive.
Jarra is also close to the Trans-Gambia Bridge and so is easily accessible to/from Dakar and Southern Senegal via the existing excellent highway.
Jarra is surrounded by farming communities. The presence of the capital city in this economically underdeveloped areas will bring jobs and development to the people – and put much needed funds into agriculture.
Banjul as the Nation’s Port City
Banjul would then continue as The Gambia’s commercial centre and port city, just as Lagos is in Nigeria. The building of the new Barra Bridge will increase commercial traffic through Banjul and the removal of the administration from the city would allow for improvements to Banjul’s poor roads. For example, the main road from the Bridge could go straight through where State House stands now – and continue onto Marina Drive and Denton Bridge.
On a final note, moving the capital city to Jarra would also stem the flow of the population from Gambia’s hinterland (the old “protectorate”) to Banjul and the Kombos – and this would relief the pressure on the population centres such as Serrekunda and Brikama.
Just a thought!