By Omar Bah
The Gambia Civil Aviation Authority has confirmed that operations have resumed at the Banjul International Airport, 48 hours after shutdown.
According to our sources, the engineers were able to move the plane and restored normal services. “In fact, the SN Brussels flight has just landed this evening,” he reported.
The airport was closed for business after a Polish aircraft broke down on the runway on Tuesday. Due to the problem, all flights bound for The Gambia were either diverted to Dakar or cancelled.
Authorities said the Enter Air flight bound for the UK had its tyres broken on the runway just before takeoff, forcing the authorities to shut down the runway.
The Polish airline operates holiday and charter flights out of Poland and other European airports. The company’s Boeing 737 aircraft flies to Banjul from Gatwick from May to October. Hundreds of passengers including Peter Gomez of West Coast Radio were said to have been left stranded in Dakar due to the diversion.
President Adama Barrow on Tuesday instituted an Emergency Strategic Committee to clean up dumpsites and landfills within close proximity of the airport in order to reduce the risks of bird strikes.
However, at an emergency press conference yesterday, presidential adviser Mai Fatty told journalists of government’s efforts to find a lasting solution to the problem of bird ingestion into flight engines at the airport.
He said there will be a major cleansing exercise at the airport on Saturday.
“The president is seriously committed to the issue and we want people living around the area to support the process so that we will be able to deal with this emergency,” he said.
He said the taskforce has looked at all the parameters and concluded that the underlying causes of the problem are related to human activities.
“The attitude of our people has to change. We cannot continue to play with the environment especially in important areas like that…I am appealing to communities especially those living in the vicinity to avoid the habit of discriminate waste disposal,” he pleaded.
Fatty said the Office of the President is spearheading the emergency to ensure that it is addressed immediately.
Alhagie Nyangado, director of the department of strategic management said “If the menace is not addressed immediately, The Gambia might be declared an unsafe destination to fly which will be detrimental to our economy”.
He warned that the law banning the use of plastic bags is still here and that the IGP is being informed that very soon government will start prosecuting people using plastic bags. He called on Gambians to join the committee at the airport on Saturday to save the airport from birds invasion.