By Omar Bah
The Minister of Tourism and Culture, Hamat NK Bah has said that given the security lapses and the level of corruption at the Banjul International Airport “even former President Jammeh could pass there unnoticed.
“I received a text message from somebody and the person said even Jammeh can pass at the airport whiles the security are looking at people’s bags to collect mobile phones and other things and I cannot agree with the person more,” Bah said at a high level government officials’ meeting at State House yesterday.
He continued: “How on earth could those people (Umpa Mendy and Ansumana Tamba) pass through all the security checks to go and come without being noticed by anyone? These are issues we have to look at and see how best we can better the security service.”
Mr Bah recalled that a few weeks ago whiles he was boarding a flight, some Gambians came to him and started complaining about the way they are treated by Gambian immigration officers at the Airport.
“They told me some of them prefer landing in Dakar than landing in Banjul. These are Gambians coming to their own country only to be humiliated and asked to pay 50 Euros without being issued any receipt and few people are doing this at the expense of a nation,” he said.
“Mr President, this is affecting your government, affecting your image and affecting the image of the country. This is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately,” Mr Bah addressed the audience, which included President Barrow.
He said the president refused to act on the recommendation of sacking everybody who had dealings with the former regime.
“President Barrow said no, we don’t have to sack anyone. We should give everybody an opportunity and see how we can transform the country and the civil service to make it better because it was battered so bad that people were not allowed to function the way they want to function, that is why some of you are here,” Bah said.
He added: “We know some of you were part of the system in the past…We know people who took guns and were ready to defend the Jammeh regime in our midst here, we know more than you think we know….But Mr President said no….I would have done a different thing if I was in President Barrow’s position.”
However in a rather conciliatory tone, Mr Bah said now that tall hands are together the best thing is for all to work towards achieving the objectives as a government and nation. “We cannot accept the practices of the past, we must project and behave in a proper manner because Gambia deserved better.”
Mr Bah further said that as a team and as ministers they have their differences time to time because of their standards.
“If seven parties are together of course their ideology and policy will be different. But as a group we have been mature enough to make sure our differences do not weaken us, and instead it has become our strength.”