The managing director of Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), Ousman Jobarteh and commissioner general of Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA), Yankuba Darboe, have reaffirmed government's commitment to improve efficiency of the GPA.
The duo gave the assurance during GPA's Stakeholders Consultative Meeting within the maritime industry on Thursday.
The objective of the consultation meeting was to enable all actors to converge at GPA's training block and discuss burning issues and challenges hindering the smooth and effective service delivery at the Ports of Banjul and to come up with sound and critical recommendations that would help the government to take measures to improve the Ports' efficiency.
The two institutions expressed their resolve to improve efficiency at the Ports' but acknowledged they could not do it in isolation and thus called for collective efforts by all players within the maritime industry.
The consultative meeting also seeks to draw direct inputs and feedback on performance and service delivery at the Ports of Banjul to boost customer satisfaction.
During the consultation meeting, a lot of concerns that currently affect operators at Ports of Banjul were raised such as "illegal Ports charges" from Masculine, unavailability of facilities and road transit at the border and the decongestion of the Ports.
Responding to most of the complaints and concerns raised, Managing Director Jobarteh thanked the actors and said their concerns were well noted and that as a government, there are plans to expand the Ports to Sanyang in Kombo South and also to purchase some facilities geared towards improving Ports' efficiency for effective service delivery.
Mr. Jobarteh, expressed appreciation over recommendations proposed by stakeholders to improve Ports operations and management.
Also responding to some of the concerns was Yankuba Darboe of GRA. He hailed the stakeholders for the initiative, describing this kind of meeting as a "step in the right direction."
He cited that recommendations for immediate capacity improvements to address increasing demands on the Ports facility will no doubt help to revive competitiveness, ensuring value and lower commodity costs.
Mr. Darboe acknowledged that it's only Gambians who can come together and develop the country.
"Whenever there are issues, we should mobilise our efforts and see how best we can address it together. We are all stakeholders in this process. If you have issues, contact us and discuss with us to find a solution together," he advised.
"At GRA, we have an open door policy," he disclosed.
He also spoke about road transit and the paradigm shift that they are now embarking on, saying once their imported materials come to the border, they would be escorted up the main headquarters in Banjul for assessment and payment.
Also addressing the meeting on behalf of the Chief of Staff, the permanent secretary, Office of the President, Buba Sanyang, said the stakeholders meeting demonstrates that the government is listening to the business community. "This is one way for the government to show those stakeholders and partners that we are in it together and we need to put our house together and improve the system," he stated.
"The Gambia as a small country needs to be strategic by ensuring that it serves as the hub for business to be able to create jobs and generate revenue," he said, adding that the government is supporting GPA with more land to be able to expand so as to improve its service delivery and increase the number of ships that can be anchored at the landing sites.
He urged the business community to work closely with government to address the challenges currently faced at the Ports.