The new Gambian president has admitted that the state is financing the cost of his stay at Kairaba Beach Hotel.
Adama Barrow has confirmed to The Torch that the Gambian tax payers are responsible for the cost of his stay at a local hotel while work continues in ensuring the usability of the State House in Banjul.
Barrow defeated Gambia’s dictator Yahya Jammeh who refused to step down on claims that the polls were tainted with “unacceptable irregularities”.
The tense standoff led to the military intervention of regional forces and since his departure for Equatorial Guinea after accepting to step down, the Gambian leader has not gone to State House.
A number of Gambians have protested online that Barrow is wasting millions of Gambian taxpayers’ money.
But he said such claims are exaggerated.
“During the transition I was here and it was not the government that was paying the bills… it is unfortunate that I have to be here. It is not my own will to be at Kairaba but the presidency must function. State House is not suitable for me to work in there and presidency must operate,” he said.
“But it is the Gambia government that is paying the bill…”
But he said he could not as at the time of the interview tell “how much” money was being paid.
“I do think so,” he swiftly responded when asked if his stay at Kairaba is not unnecessarily costing Gambians their meager resources.
“This is all exaggeration.”
Barrow however said their two months stay at Kairaba while he was a president elect was not funded by Government, but his coalition team.
He would not say how fast he thinks the work at the State House will finish but reveal that he is planning on going there “very soon”.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the presidency, Halifa Sallah, told journalists last week Friday that one of the issues they had to deal with was Barrow’s place of residence and work before his arrival from Senegal.
He said they had contemplated a number of options including the use of tall Future Lec building along the Traffic Light road towards the Senegambia area.
But securities around the presidency had advised that Future Lec was not suitable given its proximity to the road and exposure.
He said a third option aside from going to the State House which was “entirely in the hands of ECOWAS forces”, was a particular house which was being renovated at that time.
“I was being given a minute update at the time on the progress of the situation… If this has become a concern for the citizenry then it is a concern for the president too. I will find out more information and get back to the press as soon as I can,” Sallah told journalists.
Speculations are now rife that the building in question that Barrow might be moving to is a government residential area which was at one time used as a residence for the former vice president Isatou Njie Saidy.
The Torch cannot confirm this.