The Gambia is ranked 3rd in the effective implementation of the eight critical elements of aviation safety regulations and oversight in Africa, coming only after South Africa and Egypt, the director general of The Gambia Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has told lawmakers Monday.
Speaking while presenting the institution's activity report for the year ended 31st December 2013 to the members of the Joint Session of the Public Accounts and Public Enterprises Committees (PAC/PEC) of the National Assembly, Abdoulie E. Jammeh also said The Gambia is the first country to undergo a comprehensive approach in aviation through an enhanced assessment process.
He reassured that safety and oversight will always remain the institution's most important function. "Providing aviation safety regulation and oversight will always remain the Authority's most important function," he added. The year under review, Jammeh told members, saw The Gambia's aviation industry maintaining its high safety record. Navigational aids
On navigational aid facilities, Jammeh indicated that during the period, a new anemometer was installed at runway 32 touchdown zone using wireless technology. This, he said, is part of the automatic meteorology observatory system.
The GCAA boss also used his presentation to highlight the importance of Doppler Very-high frequency Omni-directional Radio (DVOR) range, noting that this piece of equipment is one of the primary navigational aids in The Gambia's airways system. "It is ground based, radio navigation aid, transmitting omni-directional signals that enable an aircraft to determine its bearing relative to the location of the airport. The Banjul DVOR is used for homing approach and landing. It also provides en-route navigation guidance for aircraft overflying the territory of The Gambia," he told members.
Dilating on the importance of security in aviation, the GCCA boss informed that the Authority through its Quality Control Unit in collaboration with stakeholders had embarked on the revision of the National Civil Aviation Security (NCAS) with a view to ensuring that it stays abreast in an industry as dynamic as aviation.
"During the period under review, the security programmes of Air Rep Services and Arik Airlines were critically examined to ensure that they continue operations as per their approved airport security programmes," he indicated.
Jammeh also brought to the attention of members that the GCAA had registered 97% compliance with regards to the submission of security programmes by airport and airline operators during the period under review. The compliance monitoring indicators of aviation security standards of Banjul International Airport, he said, show above average in 2012. "During this period, there was no intrusion at sterile zones and there were no registered incidents of both human and drug trafficking," Jammeh added.
Considering the competitive nature of the air transport industry and congruence with the goal to make Banjul International Airport (BIA) a major hub in the sub-region, the GCAA DG asserted further that the Authority had intensified its efforts to lure more operators to Banjul. During the year under review, he recollected, the GCAA in collaboration with stakeholders including The Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard) and The Gambia International Airlines (GIA), undertook series of marketing promotions to sell BIA as a viable destination.
In respect to this initiative, he reported with delight that Air Europe, a celebrated Spanish airline, was persuaded to recommence operations to Banjul, thus filling the huge vacuum left by the demise of Spanair. "Asky Airline also restarted operations after a brief lull in increasing connectivity within the sub-region," he told members.
Strategic human resource
Whilst the Authority's reputation and success are dependent on the capability and quality of its employees, according to Jammeh, the institution has continued to demonstrate its ability to attract, recruit, retain, develop and motivate staff with requisite skills knowledge and experiences. This, he underscored, ultimately determines their success in meeting their objectives and stakeholders' expectations.
He said the GCAA's human resource department has a primary function of increasing efficiency and effectiveness through management and administration of the Authority's human resources. He informed that the department also ensures that there are appropriate, suitable and well spelt out policies and procedures guiding the activities of every staff. NAMs' reaction
Reacting to the report, the member for Illiassa, Hon. Lamin K. Jammeh, commended GCAA for its "comprehensive and understandable report". He also praised the institution for its 'impressive' compliance rate of 94 percent, urging it to improve on it.
The deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Fatou Mbye, also commended the GCAA for its commitment showcased in staff appraisal, something she emphasised must continue.
The member for Upper Niumi, Hon. Mam Cherno Jallow, Abdoulie Saine of Banjul Central and a nominated member, Hon. Seedy Njie, all contributed to the debate.