By Abdoulie Nget
n entry into Gambia’s capital city, Banjul, commuters are now greeted with elevated view of saluting golden lights, which reads: “Welcome to the City of Lights.”
Unveiled at President Jammeh’s well celebrated 46 birthday anniversary, the recent street lightening of Banjul - from the Denton Bridge through to the Arch 22 and McCarthy square now 22 July Square roundabout – is hailed by some people as a tremendous facelift to The Gambia’s largely underdeveloped capital city.
Built in 1996, the impressive 35m tall Arch 22, which offers expansive views over the city also have its elephant pillars wrapped in golden lights.
The Daily News finds out that, already, the place is attracting some business activities, especially for photographers who no longer have to move about in search of beautiful spots to take pictures of their clients.
“It is very nice to see such a development in our country,” Sheik Cham, a photographer found taking pictures of clients using the Arch 22 as background told The Daily News.
“Before, we use to carry our cameras to go round in search of beautiful spots. But now, we just hang around here to take pictures because the decorations on the Arch 22 offers a beautiful background.”
Cham described the development as a positive move, noting that they have been having increased income ever since.
Some Senegalese youths on vacation in Gambia were also intrigued by the development as they were seen posed for pictures at the Arch 22.
“Though there are decorations in the city of Dakar, but not like this one in Banjul,” said Amadou Mballow.
“It came at a right time as it gives image to the city of Banjul, and I can say all Gambians are and will be proud if they see such a development in their coun
try,” remarked Alieu Faye, a Banjulian, who thanked the Jammeh administration for the development.
However, beyond the beautiful scenery in that small part of Banjul lies another side of Banjul where inhabitants are in fury over growing mosquitoes’ infestation, poor sanitation and poor drainage systems.
Although the deputy Mayor of Banjul told GRTS that city of Banjul is among the cleanest cities in the world, many Banjulians interviewed by The Daily News find his statement unbelievable.
“You could see lights everywhere in the streets when entering into Banjul, but you would be caught by surprise to see the poor living conditions if you go just a litter further into Banjul,” said Aisha Bah, a native.
With the rains dropping soon, Banjulians are concerned about the seemingly inevitable flooding and other rain related disasters as not much, if any improvement is done to alleviate risk to rain-related disasters.
“We have been facing many difficulties during the rainy seasons and even anticipating the worst this upcoming rainy season. Water runs in and out of our compounds every rainy season,” Madam Bah said.
Mbye Jobe, a tailor residing at No. 12 Wellesley Street also raised similar concerns and yet he believes his area is far better off than other parts in Banjul,
For Baboucarr Ceesay of Pignard Street, they are exposed to malaria due to stagnant waters during the rainy season.
“I have been living in this street for a long time now. There is a big gutter running from Pignard Street to Ranking Street with huge amount of water during rains and it remains stagnant during the dry season. This puts us at the mercy of mosquitoes,” he added.He appealed to the government through the Banjul City Council to help those living in unbearable conditions in some parts of Banjul.