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OIC Gambia finalises logistics; Accommodation reserved for 4,000 delegates Government buying over 100 vehicles

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By Lamin Cham

With a little over a month before The Gambia hosts the 15th summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooporation, the national OIC secretariat has said preparations for the 57- member nation summit is well on course to reach the desired standards.

The summit, the second largest international gathering of world leaders, is expected to open in Banjul on 4 May with President Adama Barrow assuming the chairmanship of the organisation for the next three years.

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Revealing the state of logistical preparations, Yankuba Dibba, the CEO of the OIC Gambia Secretariat, told The Standard Monday that already, accommodation has been reserved for 4,000 delegates both in hotels and private accommodations.

“The magnitude of the delegations coming requires a well-integrated and coordinated process that will focus on many aspects such as who is coming and what logistical need in terms of security, transportation and even health facilities have to be in place,” CEO Dibba said. 

“Organising such an event is not just about nice hotels or accommodation, but how do they get here, by what flight, visa requirements, security and so on are all important areas to be covered,” he said.

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Asked how many countries have confirmed to attend at head of state level, Mr Dibba said many have done so but for security reasons their identities cannot be disclosed now. 

”This summit is statutory requirement in the OIC and all member states are mandated to attend at the highest level so you can expect a high turnout of leaders. It many not be possible to have all 57 leaders in Banjul but even if we have 35 that will be a highly successful summit,” Mr Dibba said.

He said the new VIP lounge at the airport has adequate facilities to receive all VVIPs at any given time and if need be space can be created there to cater for their support staff.

In terms of transportation, Mr Dibba revealed that some 57 saloon cars for VVIPs have already been secured and put under control and there is a budget for another 167 4×4 vehicles to take care of the rest of the delegations including minsters and other senior staff. 

”At first, we were banking on mass rental of cars and there is a tender out for that already but The Gambia government has intervened to buy 100 brand new 4x4s and there are possibilities for assistance of transport from other nations,” Mr Dibba said. 

He said already, the new ultra-modern conference centre is turning The Gambia into a hub for international meetings.

”From our founding, the focus has been that this summit as a project, should impact on Gambian lives as much as possible and that’s why even whereas we realised that Gambian companies may lack the capacity to undertake our infrastructure projects, we deliberately put a clause that any international company contracted for any job must have a Gambian partner,” he added. 

He said when the OIC Secretariat was set up it had only about 20 staff members but currently with the expansion of its administration and units it now boasts of over 100.

In the same vein, Dibba said government has initially budgeted D300 million on the summit and most of it would be investment that will come back to the Gambian economy as most of it will be spent on work and services owned by Gambian companies.

”For example, after the summit the Government has taken a decision to deploy the vehicles to government institutions to eradicate duplication of expenses on purchasing of vehicles for those work places,” he said.

On the future of the OIC Gambia Secretariat, Mr Dibba said the body was created by government and it is hoped that it will continue to function during the period of The Gambia’s three-year tenure of the chairmanship of the OIC and even beyond.

“You see, the summit is being used as a leverage to energise the country into so many transformative aspects that will boost her image as a clean, safe and stable hub for tourism. The summit will enable The Gambia with multiple opportunity networks especially with more endowed nations around the world in the Islamic ummah with great investment opportunities. But at the end of the day, it will be the decision of government as to what will be the fate of the secretariat,” Mr Dibba said. 

The Banjul OIC summit will begin on 30 April with the meeting of ambassadors, then the ministerial conference culminating in the meeting of presidents, kings and rulers of the Islamic ummah on 4 to 5 May.

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