By Alagie Manneh
The Gambia Civil Aviation Authority has blamed the unprecedented heavy rains for the flooding of the Banjul airport terminal building.
Pictures of floods airport terminal surfaced online with airport staff and officials of the Gambia Fire and Rescue Services busy emptying the water from the terminal in the wake of last month’s heavy downpour.
Many Gambians asked how that could happen on the back of a reported $30 million renovation of the airport terminal.
While blaming the heavy rains, the GCAA said it was in fact the old drainage systems, and not the newly renovated areas that got affected.
“The rehabilitation works that happened in the airport did not cover its drainage systems,” Kabiru Jammeh, director of engineering and maintenance, said. “The rehabilitation was purely the terminal building including our systems and the aerodrome. So, the project did not cover the drainage system.”
He added that the airport’s drainage system since inception hasn’t been changed.
“It’s the same drainage system that’s there, and some of the pipes are under structures, so, it will be difficult to change the flow direction now,” Mr Jammeh explained.
He also pointed out the sunken terrain topography of the airport, saying because of that, a heavy downpour has always been a challenge. “The downpour we had recently was not normal. It was very heavy, and so the discharge was slower than the downpour that was coming. It’s natural that when your discharge is slower than the supply, it will take time before the water is discharged.”
He dismissed as “incorrect” suggestions that the project was poorly implemented and that is why the terminal flooded.
“Before, it used to rain inside the terminal and that is why we changed the roof successfully and now we are not getting any rain coming to the terminal through the roof. What we have now is the challenge of downpour entering the pipes in the drainage systems,” Mr Jammeh said.
Assessing the effects brought by the floods, Mr Jammeh said the damage has been minimal. “It did not cause any financial loss, or otherwise. There was never any time where the downpour has caused disruptions in our airport operations. Our operations were always ongoing”.