Hamat Bah

The Government of the Gambia has revealed plans to punish regional and international airlines that fails to make a monthly payment of civil aviation border control fees.

Under the radical plans to pass the funding of the country’s contract for the provision of the civil aviation and immigration security and E-visa management services on passengers, aeroplanes face being impounded or losing their rights to land in the West African country.

Airlines could also given a monthly 5% financial penalty for failing to transfer the full amount of money collected from passengers at the end of each month.

From January 2019, Gambians and tourists flying out or landing at the Banjul International Airport will pay US$40 towards a technology system for the screening of travelers arriving and departing the country through its international airport to ensure the safety of the air transportation industry

The fee will be collected ‘directly by all the airlines operating in the Gambia, from each passenger aged from three years old upon departure and arrival, either at the moment of ticket sale or at the issuing of the boarding pass.

The government has defended the controversial plan to pass the cost of airport security on passengers due to what it described as threats posed by international terrorist groups throughout the region against the safety of local citizens and foreign visitors on arrival and departure to/from the country’s international airport and in order to identify terrorists, criminals, and drug traffickers that would use the airport and thereby affect the safety of civil aviation (international and regional airlines and airports), including airline passengers, airport facilities, and aircraft.

Hamat Bah, minister of Tourism said the levy will not threaten the country’s tourism industry. He said the government has already put in place measures to prevent the industry from being affected.

Reacting to criticisms from Diaspora Gambians, Mr Bah said: “Social media will always talk”we the government will always do what we have to do in the best interest of the country as we are more concerned than anybody else with matters regarding the industry and the welfare of Gambians or other investors that have interest in the tourism sector.

“So we would not do anything that will jeopardise the interest and the stability of the industry.”