May 6, 2008, 6:19 AM
On the third day of his state visit to The Gambia, ROC President Ma Ying-jeou last Friday visited the Naval Fleet (Patrol Boats) at the Gambia Port Authority and the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital (RVTH) in Banjul.
President Ma’s Friday engagement began with a visit to the Naval Fleet at the Ports where he was received by the vice President Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy and other senior government officials including service chiefs.
He was at the Naval Fleet to see the four patrol boats donated to The Gambia in 2009 by the ROC and ascertain their condition and usefulness to the country.
In his welcome address, Commander of Gambia Navy, Commodore Madane Senghore, briefed the visiting President and delegation about their operations.
According to him, prior to the donation of the four patrol boats to the Navy by the ROC, the fulfillment of their maritime safety and security duties have been a major challenge to Gambia Navy.
He however acknowledged that the donated boats have greatly enhanced their capabilities in safeguarding the country’s territorial waters.
"This gesture is a clear manifestation of the clear bone of friendship and cordial bilateral relations between the ROC and The Gambia,” he said.
He described the patrol boats as one of the most valuable assets to The Gambia Navy while thanking the government and people of the ROC for the countless support to the country.
Meanwhile, after his welcome remarks done in the boat, Commodore Signore made a brief safety guidelines followed by a boat ride.
During the trip, President Ma said that ever since they arrived they have been overwhelmed by the high welcome of the Gambian people, which he attributed to the strong friendship and bilateral ties between the two countries.
“With regard to the patrol boats we have provided to The Gambia, I am very glad to see them performing the duties in the right way and effectively defending your coastal security in combating terrorism, piracy and smuggling,” Ma said.
The ROC President noted that they are very happy that the original purpose of the corporation had already been accomplished.
Also on day three of his visit, President Ma and delegation visited the RVTH were he inspected the MRI unit and facilities donated to the country by the ROC.
At the hospital, he was informed by the Minister of Health and Social Welfare Ms Fatim Badjie that they have long anticipated his arrival to the country.
She said the reason was that Ma is not only a good friend of President Jammeh but also they are very appreciative of the ROC’s invaluable contribution to the development and quality status of the RVTH and the health sector in general.
She said that due to capacity constraints in the health sector, friendly countries, notably the Republic of Cuba, have for many years been assisting The Gambia with doctors whose upkeep is provided by the ROC grant.
She spoke of the numerous intervention of the ROC to the hospital such as the donation of essential medical equipments.
“Recently, we have received 10 hemodialysis machines including consumables and two CT scanners of which one is situated here in the RVTH and the other at the Serrekunda Hospital. Last year we received 11 mobile X-ray machines, which have been distributed to key health facilities,” she said.
Minister Badjie noted that the most recent of the assistance was the receipt and installation of an MRI machine for the first time in The Gambia thanks to the generosity of Taiwan.
For his part, Dr Ahmed Seck, Chief Medical Director of RVTH said the hospital was transformed to a teaching hospital to train homegrown nurses and doctors.
He informed President Ma that the support his country is rendering to The Gambia’s health sector is changing many lives.
The RVTH, he said, receives 200,000 patients annually and thanked the ROC for the support particularly the RMI machine which he said, improves their diagnostic capacities.
Meanwhile, the ROC President on the same day visited the National Museum in Banjul, the newly inaugurated Taiwan Culture Centre and the ROC Embassy in Bakau.
At the National Museum, he was received by the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, and NCAC Director Baba Ceesay. The curator Hassoum Ceesay led him on a conducted tour of the sites in the Museum.