My attention has been brought to the media advisory of a reputable shipping line indicating that the Gambia Maritime Administration has announced a modification on the collection mode of the freight levy from the Gambia Ports Authority to the shipping lines with effect from 1st February 2021. Upon reading the piece so many things came to my mind given the fact that 2020 has been a tough year for businesses and by extension the public while the poor carried the burden.
Considering the challenges we were confronted in 2020, one would expect 2021 to be a year of recovery with the announcement of the vaccines, more adherence globally to Covid-19 and WHO Protocols. It is no doubt that all nations especially those in sub-Saharan Africa are busy on how to revive their economies with the USA giving out a two trillion dollar relief package with Europe and the United Kingdom taking similar measures. This begs the question, what is The Gambia doing both in the short and medium terms, forget the long term. Putting into perspectives, our industrious neighbour Senegal has been working hard to improve the status quo by taking serious economic decisions and policies such as building and improving the port of Ziguinchor, building the port of Kaolack, an embargo on trucking of cashew nuts and other exports via the Port of Banjul, improvement of the port of Dakar with the help of DP World and building of new airport which resulted into a new city.
Unfortunately, in The Gambia the ACE cable and Gamtel are as good as dead because serious countries are moving into nanotechnology, we are struggling to go online – forget the costs of the Internet. Nawec is only surprising us when we have 24/7 water and electricity, never mind the costs. Gambia Revenue Authority is not worth talking about as many have weighed on that area.
It is being alleged that Gambia Ports Authority currently has one machine operating handling less than 10 containers an hour. While a country like Guinea Bissau which used to come to The Gambia for best practice sharing is on 20 containers an hour with four machines at any point in time. The car carriers are now docking in Dakar and vehicles bound for Dakar are driven which is a direct revenue loss for the port of Banjul. A person clearing his cargo from the port suffers more hardship than a lady going into labour.
For the Gambia Maritime Administration, when you think you have heard it all and suffered enough, bang, they come! Only God and GMA and their line ministry knows. The customer advisory from a reputable shipping line cannot be fake.
Are we a cursed nation? Is this the change we fought for in 2016? Is this the country we want for our children and those yet to be born? Cleansing is needed from the top brass. Do the MDs, DGs and CEOs of these parastatals care or are they human? If they are human do, they have shame and think of when they are no more? Goodness.
I submit to you that Senegal and her colonial master France are laughing at us. The Gambia is bleeding and crying. Who will bail us out? Your guess is as good as mine.
Saidina Alieu Jarjou