New Gambia, New Capital?

Give Jarra thought,

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’s Advantages

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!



  1. Hey Dida , this is an excellent idea . Jarra is a great location and it is in the center of The Gambia . You have brilliantly stated all the excellent facts and reasons why Jarra should be the next new capital. As you have indicated, Banjul is a port city which should continue to serve as sea city for commercial river transportation and international trade. It is time for our government to be at the door steps of indigenous citizens. Jarra is a diverse region where The Gambia’s cultural values and way of life of people reflect true character of indigenous citizens.

    • I know now. You are a “Jarranka”. I will leave the floor to the “Kiangkas” to deal with you.

      I agree with the idea of moving the capital from Banjul, as it has outlived the requirements of a modern capital city. It’s too small for the purpose. There is simply no room for expansion.

      Jarra is a brilliant suggestion, but so too would many other places. Gambia is so small that distance will not be a problem, with good infrastructure and good public transport systems.

      So, may be we could rotate the capital after every specific period (say 50 years), until we have developed a CITY STATE, with every area achieving similar development levels.

      My vote goes to Jarra as the 2nd Capital.

  2. Abubacarry seedy fofana

    It would be the best for every Gambia if we really want to centralise our beloved Gambia . Which means we can developed our transportation system where people could be leaving in Basse and come to office in the capital very easily. Just a touch for our new Gambia

  3. I agreed with the idea. Our Capital should be move elsewhere and as you suggest Jarra seem to be an ideal strategic location though i would have preferred my birthplace Nuimi .

  4. Luntango (Degaleh Wagh, Tabaa Bung Bang Yekumofo)

    Sorry Fabaks, I was once smitten by Jarra’s gorgeous maidens … but if you were to take me to Niumi next time I visit, you could get me to change my mind!

  5. Uhhhheh, if you were to visit Nuimi you will in fact veto any proposal to move the capital there. I just visited there. The talk of town is the formal legalisation of ‘Jamba’, as they call it. By the way, they will tell you that it is informally legal there.

    • Luntango (Degaleh Wagh, Tabaa Bung Bang Yekumofo)

      OK Lamin, you must be from Jarra then! Legalizing Jamba (“Bangi” in Nairobi and “weed” in Notting Hill!) will be TOTALLY crazy – some of our youth are crazy enough already. I will avoid Niumi – unless Fabaks convinces me that you are unfairly besmirching the good name of Niumi.

  6. I will do that Luntango, and I bet you will change your mind if you should visit Niumi because Jarra’s gorgeous maidens cannot match with those of Niumi and you will be safer; I mean Safer. The Jarrankas knew what I mean.

  7. Luntango (Degaleh Wagh, Tabaa Bung Bang Yekumofo)

    Fabaks, I have reported your challenge to my Jaranka In-Laws over at Sambagate on Facebook. You are in trouble Brav! Run and hide in one of those Niumi hide-outs.

  8. I don’t need to run and hide Luntango. Your in-Laws knew what I am telling you as a fact. They will have to accept it. No doubt about that.

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