The Gambia Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA), has been accused of perpetuating bureaucratic red tape, corruption, nepotism, tribalism and abuse of office, by denying Gambians the right to invest in the own country, the Freedom Newspaper can reveal. The disturbing accusations were made by Alhagie Mustapha Faye, a Gambian national based in Sweden, and was onetime exiled by the former dictator Yahya Jammeh. Mr. Faye, who recently visited the Gambia, after many years of living in exile, alleged that his application to open a radio station in the Gambia, was denied by PURA for no justified reasons.

A frustrated and seemingly outraged Mr. Faye, said despite providing all the necessary documentations and finances to set up a radio station in Banjul, the PURA officials refused to approve his application. He was not only subjected to vigorous screening, Faye said, the radio license that was issued to him by the Macky Sall government, was also requested by the PURA officials for securitization. The paper for his radio equipment he bought from China, was also requested by the PURA officials. 

Throughout his dealings with the PURA officials, Faye told Freedom Radio Gambia’s Civic Education Show, that he never hesitated to cooperate with them. He became frustrated when some PURA officials asked him for D15,000 dalasis bribery to approve his radio license. 

“I have been discriminated in my own country. I have devoted all my life in fighting the Jammeh dictatorship. I return home with the sole objective of investing in the form of a radio broadcasting, but to my utter dismay, corruption is still alive and kicking in the Gambia. Despite meeting all the requirements for one to open a radio station in the Gambia, two PURA officials told me that if I don’t give them D15,000 dalasis bribery, they will not approve my application. Yankuba Touray, and one Rene, categorically told me that in order to have my application approved, I must give them D15,000 dalasi. They said that is the norm at PURA. That Radio license applicants must give them something under the table. I offered to give them D3,000 dalasis, but they refused. They later informed me that my application has been denied,” Faye alleged.

“Sadly, Yankuba Touray, is a relative of my former wife. I consider him as a family member. He used to work at Radio Gambia as an engineer. Rene too is part of our Aku family in Banjul. They treated me badly. I am mad at the system right now. This was not what we fought for. I am more than ready to declare an all out campaign to expose the corrupt government in Banjul. We should name and shame them,” Faye said.

Mr. Faye said he was told that in order to open a radio in the Gambia, he needs to employ eight people. Faye couldn’t comprehend what the PURA officials are up to.

Mr. Faye believes that he has been denied radio license because of his political views against the administration of president Adama Barrow.

“ I have been on record for having faulted Fatoumatta Tambajang Jallow’s appointment as Vice president. Her appointment was later rescinded. She is overaged. I never mince my feelings about the unjust vacant position of the VP. I have maintained that it is unfair for Barrow to reserve the post for Ms. Jallow. There are other competent Gambian women, who can occupy that post. I also criticized her for being ungrateful to the disaporan Gambian community, following her recent trip to the US. She made a condescending statement that no one should expect to be recognized by the new government for merely contributing to the struggle to remove Jammeh. This was the lady, who used to frequent Freedom radio begging for money to support the opposition,” Faye said.

“My views about Mai Fatty and Ousainou Darboe is public knowledge. I have been critical of these folks. I want to believe that they are complicit in the PURA conspiracy to unjustly deny me radio license. I am a Gambian, and I do not deserve such discrimination. I am a victim of discrimination and tribalism. Out of the people, who applied for radio license, I am the only person treated this way. Someone is not happy  with my past criticism of the Barrow government on Freedom Radio. I will continue to be critical,” he added.

Mr. Faye praised Information Minister Demba Ali Jawo, for his professionalism and humility as a public official. He said Mr. Jawo accorded him a positive reception when he (Faye) visited Jawo at his office. 

The PURA officials, and the people mentioned in this story could not be reached for comment.

WRITTEN BY PA NDERRY MBAI

EMAIL: PANDERRYMBAI@GMAIL.COM

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