#National News

GPA validates roadmap for establishment of dock labour company

Aug 25, 2021, 11:34 AM | Article By: Fatou Bojang

The Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) in collaboration with Benom Consult on Monday, 23 August 2021 held a validation forum on the roadmap for the establishment of a subsidiary dock labour company.

Held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Center, the two-day validation attracted representatives from concerned ministries, members of Gambia Maritime and Dock Workers' Union, consultant from Ghana and key stakeholder institutions.

The implementation of this roadmap, according to officials, would help contribute to the general welfare of workers, improve productivity and employment opportunities.

At the event, Langballa Saho, president Dock Workers Union said dockworkers in The Gambia contribute immensely towards the socio-economic development of The Gambia.

“But with all that efforts, Dock Workers encounter all kind of problems including employment rights, benefits, health insurance, social security pension scheme and risk allowance.”

Saho explained that the union seeks legislature on the matter so that both parties can be guided by the law to avoid repeating 2007 scenario that saw more than 240 dockworkers were unlawfully dismissed.

“Gambia Maritime Dock Workers Union leadership will never allow any company to unilaterally hire and fire for the interest of job security.”

However, he added that union calls for the immediate retirement of those who are above 60 years and be paid a substantial amount that they can use to take care of their families.

Babucarr Sarr, chairman of GPA Board of Directors, highlighted the benefits of the roadmap.

“It would enable the Dock Labour Force to better adopt and respond to the increasing cargo trends that requires prioritisation of port size equipment mechanisation and atomisation of cargo handling. It would also help in reduction of transport cost and ship waiting time and would enable the workers to act with high degree of autonomy and entrepreneurial mindset compared to the past.”

Lead Consultant for the project Ben Owusu Mensah said the project started in February, recalling that when they came to The Gambia for data collection, they met with the relevant ministries who assured best of their support.

“When we started writing the report we knew that we are going to put forward a win-win document that would benefit the government, the Ports Authority and most importantly the Dockworkers.”

Other speakers also included Mod Ceesay Permanent Secretary MOTWI and Ousman Jobarteh, Managing Director GPA, who spoke on how the new setup would improve the welfare of workers.