By Kebba Jeffang
The Gambia’s Tourism and Culture Minister Hamat Bah, has confirmed the existence of corruption at the Banjul International Airport which he said, is tarnishing the image of the country.
He urged President Barrow to do something about this with utmost urgency. Hamat made this and other remarks during his addressed to top civil servants at State House in Banjul on January 23rd. Bah said, he has received complaints from different people regarding mobile phone thefts from Gambians coming home to visit their country. He said officers at the airport have been accused and they must desist from the practice. He described ‘semesters’ as hard working people who endure sacrifices in gathering and sending remittances for the development of the country: Thus contributing to the economy. Bah said some people told him they prefer landing in Dakar to Banjul due to the rampant corruption at the BIA (Banjul International Airport). “Why should we be doing that? Officers have to ask them guests upon arrival to pay between 40 to 50 Euros before they can pass. There is a place called the ‘50 Euro Room’. We thought that room was closed but it is still there,” he said. The tourism minister recalled their effort in addressing the issue at the beginning of the tourism season at the airport. “Mr. President, this is affecting your government, affecting your image and the image of The Gambia. It is an issue we still need to address. We cannot look low upon these people. These are people who are contributing to this economy through remittances. Mr. President, this is an issue and we cannot wait for tomorrow to address it,” Bah emphasized.
Hamat concluded that someone sent him a text message saying even Yaya can pass the officers at the airport unnoticed, because they are looking for mobile phones; that they will not realize it because they would be looking into people’s bags.