By Omar Bah
A French naval officer and technical expert in international marine services has arrived in Banjul yesterday to assess Gambia Ports Authority’s fire fighting, oil spill, health and safety response areas.
Lieutenant Colonel Cedric LE Bigot’s trip is supported by the French Embassy in Dakar and coordinated by the Bureau Varitas in Senegal in consultation with Charbell N. Elhaji a local consultant based in Banjul.
The team was received at the port by the GPA managing director, Abdoulie M Tambedou.
Speaking at the GPA conference hall, the GPA deputy managing director, Ousman M. Jobarteh said the port is honored to receive the expert from France.
He reassured him that the technical assistance program will mark the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship in the years ahead.
“We are a small port that strives on efficiency and any technical assistance that will improve the set-up of the port would be more than welcome,” he said.
He said health, safety, firefighting and emergency response is a bigchallenge, “not only for the port of Banjul, but for many in developing countries.”
“Together with the ships and the machines that are operating within the ports, makes it more or less of an industrial set-up,” he said.
He said the port faces a lot of challenges in terms of the environment, health and safety marine pollution prevention.
Adding: “Another dimension in our operation is the ferry services and fisheries board which also has a lot of challenges in terms of health and safety.”
“We believe the expert’s stay in the country for the next three days or so, to conduct assessment on the health, safety and fire rescue issues will help the board identify the gaps that are in the system and recommend remedial actions,” Jobarteh said.
The consultant, Charbell N. Elhaji said the expert during his stay will assess the GPA and some of its materials that maybe under depollution.
He said the French expert who is given days off from work by the French Embassy in Dakar just to answer to the GPA call in the field he knows best, will advise ports officials on safety, depollution among others.
“We will also take the opportunity to visit the Gambia Fire and Rescue Services and the airport,” he explained.
Meanwhile, the expert Lieutenant Colonel Cedric LE Bigot said after assessing the ports he will be able to give an overview of his findings and recommendations.