The audit highlighted among other issues inability of the Port of Banjul to accommodate the current rate of cargo due to growth of traffic inflow without a corresponding terminal expansion.
The leaderships of the National Audit Office (NAO) and Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) were invited by the Standing Committee to facilitate the scrutiny of the major observations in the audit.
Chairman of the Public Enterprises Committee (PEC), Hon. Halifa Sallah, the lawmaker for Serrekunda, described the activity as a new pace for the committee through a practical engagement in monitoring a particular sector in the operation of a public enterprise.
“What has been done in this instance is to subject an aspect of the operation of the Ports Authority to what is called Performance Audit,” he said.
The task according to Hon. Sallah, was considered a necessity because of the importance of the institution to the government. “Its viability is crucial, hence, the audit aimed to look at the operations of Gambia Ports Authority to identify the areas where the Ports authority earns its keep, its area of major activity, its core operational areas, and the subject those core operational areas to performance audit in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses, make recommendations…”
In response to the audit on the berthing capacity, the Managing Director of the Gambia Ports Authority, Ousman M. Jobarteh, disclosed ongoing efforts in resource mobilisation with the support of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MOFEA) to secure concessionary funding from the European Investment Bank to increased berth capacity of the Port of Banjul.
The Auditor-General, National Audit Office, Karamba Touray highlighted potential risks of Banjul port losing its trade competitiveness to other competitors.
His office recommended increased berth capacity to accommodate more vessels and thus reduce ships’ waiting time at the anchorage and achieve faster ship turnaround time.
Accepting the recommendation, the management of GPA noted that it had commissioned a new Master Plan 2019-2038 and Business Plan 2019-2023, which has recommended the extension of the new Banjul wharf northwards of its present location by 345m as one of the urgent components.
“The GPA has recruited Royal Haskoning of the Netherland as Consultants to assist in the preliminary design, tender process and identification of a construction contractor through an EPC project. Part of the project preparatory activities, which the GPA is funding from internal resources, include the consultancy contract with Royal Haskoning.”
According to GPA, it has advertised the recruitment of a consultancy firm for the preparation of a comprehensive ESIA to cover all the components of the port Expansion project mentioned in the master plan, including the Jetty Extension.