LETTERS: Are we a corrupt nation?

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Dear editor,

Last week, on my way to the Niumis I was told at the ticket counter at Banjul Ferry Terminal that the tickets were finish and that they could not issue me with one. I was told that I and those with me should go through the main gate to board the ferry – without tickets of course.

At the gate, we found a young man who demanded that we give him something so that he would allow us to pass. The people I was with began intense negotiations with him to see how much they should give him. While this was going on, he raised one side of the barrier and I saw my opportunity. I went inside and made up my mind to hand over the fare to the ones in Barra.

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Unfortunately, the guy at the other end also had no tickets and no receipts. It was getting late and by nature, I loathe to defraud the state. But I had to put my trust in the guy to do the right thing. I gave him my ticket money and went away. Whether or not it will reach government coffers is anybody’s guess.

My concern though is this: how on earth can an institution like Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) work in this manner? How can the tickets be finish? Isn’t this giving an opportunity to employees to be corrupt? How will they account for all those who might have passed that place without proper tickets?

The sad thing is that this is not the first time I am encountering this behavior. Many a time, they will simply tell you that the tickets are finish and you have to go into the ferry without paying. If you are scrupulous, you will pay at the other side which may never reach state coffers. It is quite possible that GPA are losing hundreds of thousands of dalasis – if not millions – every month due to this.

The Gambia is a very poor country, highly indebted, which depends on aid and loans for survival. One would have thought that the government – this one, the previous one and any subsequent one – would do everything possible to reduce the levels of corruption and malfeasance to ensure that we have enough money to fund our development projects instead of allowing greedy individuals to rob the nation in broad day light and get away with it.

Being a taxpayer myself, my heart bleeds whenever I see that public officials are stealing state funds to do whatever they please and nothing comes of it. Is it impossible to put measures in place to ensure that what goes on at Gambia Ports Authority is minimized if not eradicated? Do we not have thinkers who can come up with stringent measures to ensure that these things can’t happen? Are we so helpless?

It is an open secret that Gambia Ports Authority is not the only institution that has been infiltrated by nefarious individuals whose only aim is to defraud the nation and scoop away as much funds as possible. What government must understand is that it is these very people who engage in these acts who will turn around and blame government for everything that goes wrong in the country.

I have observed that many business centres in the country do not issue proper receipts. Instead many of them will seek to give customers invoices which has implications as the tax authorities would seek to account for the receipts which means that those invoices will escape the net. It is quite evident from the above that millions of dalasis are lost due to this dubious practice.

The funny thing is that we are very good at defending ourselves and our institutions. Rather than take responsibility and seek corrective measures, many will rush to defend and deflect responsibility. So, we continue to wallow in poverty while the taxes we pay keep finding their way into the private accounts of individuals.
Some time ago, there was talk of an anti corruption commission but as the Mandinkas will say ‘Tuku-tuku yereng’. When will we hear of people being prosecuted for financial crimes and monies being recovered and returned to state coffers? Most of our woes are self a inflicted and that is what makes the fight for social and economic justice even more difficult. It seems the elite will continue to enjoy the sweat of the poor while the masses keep struggling for daily bread even though they have to pay taxes to sustain the luxurious lifestyle of the few.
Haven’t we suffered enough?

 

 

Musa Bah,
Bundung

 

 

Dear editor,

Last week, on my way to the Niumis I was told at the ticket counter at Banjul Ferry Terminal that the tickets were finish and that they could not issue me with one. I was told that I and those with me should go through the main gate to board the ferry – without tickets of course.

At the gate, we found a young man who demanded that we give him something so that he would allow us to pass. The people I was with began intense negotiations with him to see how much they should give him. While this was going on, he raised one side of the barrier and I saw my opportunity. I went inside and made up my mind to hand over the fare to the ones in Barra.

Unfortunately, the guy at the other end also had no tickets and no receipts. It was getting late and by nature, I loathe to defraud the state. But I had to put my trust in the guy to do the right thing. I gave him my ticket money and went away. Whether or not it will reach government coffers is anybody’s guess.

My concern though is this: how on earth can an institution like Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) work in this manner? How can the tickets be finish? Isn’t this giving an opportunity to employees to be corrupt? How will they account for all those who might have passed that place without proper tickets?
The sad thing is that this is not the first time I am encountering this behavior. Many a time, they will simply tell you that the tickets are finish and you have to go into the ferry without paying. If you are scrupulous, you will pay at the other side which may never reach state coffers. It is quite possible that GPA are losing hundreds of thousands of dalasis – if not millions – every month due to this.

The Gambia is a very poor country, highly indebted, which depends on aid and loans for survival. One would have thought that the government – this one, the previous one and any subsequent one – would do everything possible to reduce the levels of corruption and malfeasance to ensure that we have enough money to fund our development projects instead of allowing greedy individuals to rob the nation in broad day light and get away with it.

Being a taxpayer myself, my heart bleeds whenever I see that public officials are stealing state funds to do whatever they please and nothing comes of it. Is it impossible to put measures in place to ensure that what goes on at Gambia Ports Authority is minimized if not eradicated? Do we not have thinkers who can come up with stringent measures to ensure that these things can’t happen? Are we so helpless?

It is an open secret that Gambia Ports Authority is not the only institution that has been infiltrated by nefarious individuals whose only aim is to defraud the nation and scoop away as much funds as possible. What government must understand is that it is these very people who engage in these acts who will turn around and blame government for everything that goes wrong in the country.

I have observed that many business centres in the country do not issue proper receipts. Instead many of them will seek to give customers invoices which has implications as the tax authorities would seek to account for the receipts which means that those invoices will escape the net. It is quite evident from the above that millions of dalasis are lost due to this dubious practice.

The funny thing is that we are very good at defending ourselves and our institutions. Rather than take responsibility and seek corrective measures, many will rush to defend and deflect responsibility. So, we continue to wallow in poverty while the taxes we pay keep finding their way into the private accounts of individuals.

Some time ago, there was talk of an anti corruption commission but as the Mandinkas will say ‘Tuku-tuku yereng’. When will we hear of people being prosecuted for financial crimes and monies being recovered and returned to state coffers? Most of our woes are self a inflicted and that is what makes the fight for social and economic justice even more difficult. It seems the elite will continue to enjoy the sweat of the poor while the masses keep struggling for daily bread even though they have to pay taxes to sustain the luxurious lifestyle of the few.

Haven’t we suffered enough?

Musa Bah,
Bundung

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