Jul 21, 2008, 7:49 AM
On the 5th June, 2010 I left the Gambia for the Guinean Capital of Bissau by my car, in company. Upon our arrival at Gibboro I was issued a vehicle lesser-parse.
At the first Senegalese border check point in Selite, we were issued a Senegalese lesser-parse amounting to 2500 CFA franc for the vehicle with an official receipt after which, we started journey to cross Cassamance via Binjona, Ziguinghor then to Ompac, the first border check point on entry to Guinea-Bissau.
We have smoothly passed all check points in Cassamance without any hindrance. At any check point we reach, we would show them the lesser-parse issued to us at Selite then we would be asked to pass without much delay. This has actually been an enjoyable journey - a journey that made me feel at home
Heaven to hell from Ompac border check point to Bissau
Upon arriving in Ompac at the first border check point on entry to Bissau, we found three security-group check points (Custom, Police and Immigration). As usual, when entering any country, one ought to carry with him/her a document permitting you - that is the lesser-parse. But my trip from Ompac to Bissau was completely a different story. We have been issued a Guinean lesser-parse for 2000/2500 CFA and 1000CFA franc for the vehicle and my company holding Gambia ID respectively at Custom check point in Ompac. At Police and Immigration check points, all in Ompac, we have our lesser-parse stamped by each and we paid the same amount as paid at custom separately at each check point-meaning that for everyone of the two lesser-parses, we have made a payment for each at custom for issuing lesser-parse, police and immigration for stamping. After these payments still at Ompac, we were taken to another office and asked to pay a sum of 2500CFA franc for the sake of road maintenance. This, I did without regrets as a receipt was given and I am quite sure the money will go to the nation's coffers.
Continuing our journey from Ompac, the same ill-treatment continues up to Bissau. At every security post along the way, we found the three security-groups mentioned above. They all stamp the lesser-parses separately and we paid for each separately until we reach Bissau. There is not a single check point that we have passed without paying for the stamp on each lesser-parse by each of these three security-groups separately, in any particular post at each check point up to Bissau.
At one of the check points in Safin, I resisted as I was not left with any money budgeted for the trip. There, we have been delayed for an hour. I later had to pay, to continue my journey. Also along the way to Bissau, we crossed two bridges and paid 500CFA Franc at each crossing point with receipts. Again I have no regret.
Back home from Bissau fair journey
Monday 7th I prepared my journey back home after so many sleepless nights contemplating on:
What are the essence of ECOWAS protocols?
Are ECOWAS countries not aware or they are just giving deaf ears?
Are Bissau authorities not aware of these treachery acts meted out on foreigners at the expense of their nation?
So far, of all the check points I passed when coming only at two points I was asked to pay for a stamp on each lesser-parse at the same cost and each of the three security-groups.
Altogether I paid 25000CFA.
I am appealing to the Gambian authorities to have a close look at this, as I considered this a horrible treatment. I know I am not the only one and after all am not a frequent traveler to Guinea. Let both authorities look into this and find a lasting solution. My last trip before this was in 1993 to Guinea.
As an African, I am always happy when I see heads of states crossing across Africa only to cement the existing relation amongst countries. When watching News, seeing our President touching down Banjul International Airport for Bissau or Guinean President visiting Gambia, I feel African unity, but my trip to Guinea-Bissau has shown me a different view of Africa and is a food for thought for me.