By Buba Gagigo
Modou Lamin B. Bah, the National Assembly Member for Banjul North, returning from a recent seminar he attended in the United Kingdom, has called for a reciprocal visa arrangement that will require British citizens travelling to the Gambia to apply for and pay a visa fee.
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“I think it is very unfortunate that at the level of the Gambia, being part of the Commonwealth, when we are going to the UK we need a Visa. Which is very unfortunate because we are part of the Commonwealth. Also, as diplomatic passport holders, you go through the ordinary process, which is very unfair,” honourable Bah said.
The Banjul North MP also took issue with the cost and time involved in getting the visa, adding that he and his colleagues paid D17,600 Just to get the clearance;
“Even the cost involved, it is too much, because personally I can remember the entire process. My colleagues and I paid D17,600 Just to get the clearance, and they sent the passports all the way to the UK so that we can have the clearance. That is the visa, and it took six weeks before we were able to get our passports again. Why that burden? I think this is very unfair to the Gambian people, more particularly a country that belongs to the Commonwealth and this I will put to the United Kingdom as far as they are charging us money to pay for our clearance to go to the UK,” he said.
Honourable Bah suggested that the Gambia should start levying a visa fee on British passport holders travelling to the Gambia;
“Our embassy also should charge the British passport holders in the UK when coming to the Gambia at least one hundred pounds. Because that will also help the High Commissioner or the High Commission office in terms of their operational costs. The challenges that they are faced with more particularly when it comes to mobility, more particularly when it comes to the resources that they need to put their job is something that we will start considering, and I would also encourage the Minister of External Affairs to start considering this, because if we are to pay money to get our visa to go to UK, they should also pay visa cost to come to the Gambia,” the MP concluded.
The Banjul North National Assembly Member made these remarks on the West Coast Radio on Wednesday after returning from a parliamentary seminar in the United Kingdom.