By Amadou Jadama
The World Food Programme representative and country director, Yasuhiro Tsumura has called on the general public to continue practising the WHO guidelines on the deadly COVID-19.
He made this remark while presiding over the handing over set of canopy to the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority Tuesday at Banjul International Airport.
The Canopy was built by UNOPS and funded by World Food Programme meant to maintain the guidelines on COVID-19 by social distancing for the safety of travellers.
In a statement delivered by Claude Nshimirimana, head of supply chain for WFP the Gambia on behalf Yasuhiro Tsumura, he said: “This canopy we are handing over today was part of the support rendered by WFP to the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority in its fight against COVID-19.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the World Food Programme as the co-chair of the national COVID-19 logistics and safety committee has supported adhoc requests to bring in cargo from various locations around the world to the Gambia with support from WHO, including donations from the Jack Ma Foundation using the humanitarian air services operated by WFP.”
He added that WFP also supported GCAA with various communication materials to boost awareness of COVID-19 and advocate the adherence of WHO and the government of the Gambia guidelines on COVID-19 preventive measures. He said this included billboards and banners, foot and sign stickers within the airport to ensure social distancing for departing and arriving passengers, advocacy videos for use on airport screens, on aircraft and TV.
The WFP boss further disclosed that to avoid overcrowding of passengers on airport buses and within the airport grounds, “WFP also funded the construction of this canopy with technical support from their sister agency UNOPS as an additional step towards ensuring social distancing of passengers.
“With the current surge in COVID-19 cases in the Gambia and globally, it is clear to us all that COVID-19 will be around for a while longer. Therefore, we must continue developing measures and putting in place mechanisms to ensure we all stay safe, more so when travelling by strengthening our mitigation efforts.
As this is a global pandemic, measures such as rapid tests, proof of negative PCR tests as well as vaccines have all been instructed to ensure both travellers leaving the Gambia and arriving into the country remain safe.
I wish to emphasize that it is important we continue to practice the WHO guidelines on social distancing and washing handing frequently. Together we will fight to control the spread of the coronavirus in the Gambia.”
Shabnam Mallick, UNOPS country manager, said the Banjul airport is not only a critical piece of transport infrastructure, “it is the first national structure that travellers to the lovely country of the Gambia see upon arrival and last they see before exit.”
She added that the construction of this canopy will “improve passenger experiences at the airport, and provide them cover to safety and comfortably social distance when they are travelling out or arriving.”
Sulayman Jatta, deputy director general who spoke on behalf of the director general of the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority, has given the assurance that GCAA will continue to intensify their efforts geared towards maintaining the safety of passengers and the public at large.