Mar 13, 2020, 4:01 PM
Speaking to The Point on Wednesday, GPA MD Lamin Sanyang said the signing ceremony of the MOU was attended recently by a delegation of GPA staff to their counterparts in Guinea Bissau.
He said the GPA had signed a lot of cooperation packs with other ports authorities one of which is the Bissau Ports Authority.
“The visit was meant to assess what Bissau can gain from Banjul and what Banjul can gain from Bissau and to integrate and strengthen the already established relationship and cooperation between Bissau and Banjul,” Mr Sanyang said.
The GPA delegation also toured strategic and essential parts of the port to determine the possibility of hiring a coastal vessel that would be plying the Bissau-Banjul route.
According to MD Sanyang, his visit to Guinea Bissau was based on the approval of the President of The Gambia.
“I would like to thank him for giving me the opportunity to go to Bissau to explore the market in Bissau and to have discussions with Bissau authorities including some ministers,” he said, adding that the authorities of Bissau were very happy about the visit and impressed with the Gambian delegation to Bissau, especially regarding the MOU signed by both countries.
Rationale behind the MOU
Mr Sanyang said the objective of the MOU was to build cooperation and relationship between the two ports, “because in any important development, we have to share ideas and skills between one port and another.”
This is because there are things that are of advantage and constraints to each other, hence the signing of the MOU to complement the efforts of each other, he said.
The MOU covered issues of staff expertise, exchange of best practices and experience between the two authorities and nations, he said, adding that it also included both sides’ immediate action plans, such as conducting exchange visit and organising seminars and conferences to gain more knowledge on best practices, safety, management, and maritime.
“The importance attached to this MOU cannot be overemphasised as it will help in almost the whole system and processing within ports operation,” the GPA managing director noted.
He also said there was an MOU signed in November 2014 between both ports, following the visit to The Gambia of the managing director of Bissau Ports Authority but the recent MOU signed in Bissau focused on “the Action Plan that will be acted upon immediately by both countries.”
“The management of Bissau Ports Authority did sign the MOU because of the trust and confidence they have in Gambia Ports Authority and the Government of President Jammeh,” Mr Sanyang noted.
The Gambian delegation was “very appreciative” of the compliment of the Bissau ports management and also expressed similar sentiments in thanking the Bissau authorities for their cooperation and kind gesture, the GPA MD said.
He also said that during their visit to Bissau, GPA officials were “lucky to meet with all the stakeholders or players in the maritime industry, including the minister of transport, minister of Regional Integration, minister of Commerce, and minister of Internal Security, “as security is very paramount in port or maritime trade.”
“We also met with members of the chamber of commerce of Bissau and made some relations and links for the Gambia chamber of commerce. We as well met with the agricultural association in Bissau including exporters of cashew and other stakeholders.”
During their meeting with the agricultural association, references were made to especially the difficulties they faced in transporting cashew from Guinea Bissau to The Gambia through Senegal, hence members of the association proposed the acquisition of a vessel that would be plying Bissau-Banjul route to ease the transportation of cashew from Bissau to Banjul.
Private sector investment
MD Sanyang also pointed out the need for private sector investment in areas such as coastal vessel that would be plying Banjul-Bissau route.
He appealed to members of the private sector to join the GPA management to ensure a vessel is acquired that will be operating between Banjul and Bissau, as this will facilitate trade and transportation of the huge volumes of cargoes between both countries.
“There are lots of cargoes in Bissau that are needed in Banjul, such as basal, timber, palm oil, and cashew, which are some of the main exchange products between the two countries,” he said, adding that cashew is one of the main exports of both countries, and it has contributed to the volume of exports that pass through the port of Banjul.
Mr Sanyang also seized the opportunity to thank both managements for their understanding, cooperation, and commitment to signing the MOU, saying they are highly optimistic that the relationship would go from strength to strength as there are lots of benefits to be derived from the MOU and cooperation.