By Omar Bah
Stakeholders drawn from the Office of President, the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA), the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), and the business community met Thursday to discuss the port expansion project and its prospects.
The government has been under pressure over the port’s lack of capacity to handle vessels, resulting in vessels carrying Gambian goods to anchor in Dakar.
Concerned about the resentment from the business community on the issue, government last week invited major importers and exporters to a meeting at the port to discuss the issue.
Addressing the meeting on behalf of the chief of staff, the permanent secretary Office of the President, Buba Sanyang, said the stakeholders’ meeting reflects the government’s commitment to listen and address the complaints raised by the business community.
“This is one way for government to show its stakeholders and partners that we are in it together and we need to put our house together and improve the system,” he said.
He said Gambia, as a small country, needs to be strategic by ensuring that it serves as the hub for businesses to be able to create jobs and generate revenue.
PS Sanyang added that government is supporting GPA with more land to be able to expand, which will improve its service delivery and increase the number of ships that can be anchored at the landing sites. He urged the business community to work closely with government to address the challenges currently faced at the ports.
The GRA Commissioner General, Yankuba Darboe, said: “It is only us who can come together and develop this country. Whenever there are issues, we should mobilise our efforts and see how best we can address them together. We are all stakeholders in this process. If you have issues, contact us and discuss them with us to find a solution together. At GRA, our doors are always open, and that is as much as we go to be able to engage with our partners and stakeholders.
“We have noted all the concerns and challenges faced at the port, and I can assure you that the government is doing everything it can to address those challenges and ensure that the port meets the required capacity,” he said.
Darboe said the relevant government institutions are working tirelessly to ensure that “our stakeholders are comfortable doing business in The Gambia because, without them, there will be no GRA.”
The business community welcomed the meeting and commended government institutions for their foresight. They urged the GPA MD to improve the service of the ferries.
The business community also challenged government stakeholders to ensure all that is discussed is implemented.
The GPA managing director, Ousman Jobarteh, gave a rundown of the port’s expansion project and assures stakeholders that government is committed to addressing the capacity gaps at the port.