May 28, 2012, 1:28 PM
Last week, the Gambia Bird announced that it had scheduled to resume flights to Freetown from London starting 17 October.
But the leader of NRP, Amat Bah, said after this announcement his party and “a lot of other concerned Gambians” have asked him to write to the authorities to express their total disapproval in resuming air flights between The Gambia and Ebola-affected countries.
In the statement issued by the NRP secretariat on Thursday, Mr Bah said his party did not share the notion and belief of lifting the ban on travels from affected countries to The Gambia, though they acknowledged Gambia government’s preventive measures to combat the spread of Ebola in the country.
However, Gambia Bird’s announcement does not say it is resuming flights between Banjul and Freetown, but from London to Freetown.
According to the NRP leader, researchers and experts have forecast that due to the airline connections between France and Ebola-affected countries, there is 75% possibility that France can be affected by the end of October and 50% possibility for Britain.
“Our country though an Ebola-free state has already become a victim for being part of West Africa,” he said.
“Some cruise liners have suspended their coming to The Gambia.Some tour operators have either cancelled or delayed their flights until December, while some tourists have also cancelled their bookings,” the statement by the NRP leader said.
Therefore, the resumption of flights to Freetown could pose a serious threat to tourism and the Gambian economy in general, Mr Bah added.
“In our opinion, the government of the day should not accept any pressure from any organisation or quarter because there are new cases emerging in the Ebola-affected countries concerned,” he added.
Mr Bah stated that the national interest should supersede the commercial interest of any company.
“If Nigeria could have been affected with Ebola by an air passenger and America currently dealing with Ebola because of an airline passenger, what guarantees can government give that the same situation may not happen in The Gambia?” Bah queried.
The Gambia is economically different from those Ebola-affected countries, because those countries have natural resources they could fall back on immediately after the Ebola crisis, while The Gambia depends mostly on tourism, according to Bah.
Therefore, the NRP leader went on, they are calling on the government to strengthen their adopted policy on Ebola crisis, and to rescind the decision of allowing the Gambia Bird to resume their operations on the 17th of this month till further notice.
He also urged the international community to give substantial financial support to Ebola-free countries for them to strengthen their capacity to continue the fight in the prevention of Ebola.
“For all concerned Gambians, we should all be resolute, decisive and continuously fight for the prevention of Ebola as it is a question of life and death,” Mr Bah declared.