By Pa Cham
President Adama Barrow has justified his government’s decision to engage Securiport, a US-based company, to provide aviation and immigration security at Banjul International Airport.
The President defended the $20 security charges at the airport, saying they were necessary to address security challenges and meet international standards. President Barrow cited the need for security of the country and travellers crossing borders, saying that the decision to award the contract was a government decision. He added that discussions were ongoing with relevant stakeholders to embed the fees in air tickets, which would reduce noise surrounding the $20 fees collected at the airport.
The President further explained that Securiport was responsible for collecting data that is entirely kept by the Gambia Immigration Department, adding that the company is doing similar things in Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, and many other countries in the subregion. Securiport is used to safeguard a state’s territorial integrity and ensure that only those who are authorised to cross borders can do so safely and seamlessly.
“Border control is a critical function of any sovereign state. It is responsible for safeguarding the state’s territorial integrity and ensuring that only those who are authorized to cross borders can do so safely and seamlessly. Border control is a multifaceted process that involves a range of different stakeholders and systems, which includes the border agents who physically patrol. To meet the challenges of today, customized databases and other technology tools that underpin modern border security are provided to authorities for their national security. Given the country’s needs, when the Banjul International Airport (BJL) had undergone improvements to ameliorate the standards for passengers and overall air transport infrastructure, it also meant implementing advanced border security systems for greater passengers’ flow. One of the key challenges of border control is balancing security concerns with the need for efficient and timely travellers crossing borders in a cost-effective way. On the one hand, governments have the responsibility to protect their citizens from threats such as terrorism, smuggling and illegal immigration. On the other hand, they must also facilitate legitimate travel, and avoid causing unnecessary delays or disruptions. A global leader in intelligent immigration and civil aviation security solutions and services, Securiport provides technology solutions for authorities to utilize additional tools to safeguard the country’s national security.
“To achieve this balance, border control strategies often involve a mix of different measures, including biometric screening, and risk assessment systems. These measures are designed to identify and mitigate potential security risks while minimizing the impact on legitimate travelers. Criminal organizations, human traffickers and terrorist groups are constantly seeking new ways to circumvent border controls, whether by using forged documents, exploiting vulnerabilities in screening technologies, or simply finding ways to evade detection. The Republic of Gambia, to comprehensively deal with all forms of terrorism and terrorist activities, has been advancing its commitment towards preventing terrorism and has enacted legislations including the anti-money laundering act, and the human trafficking in persons act.
“In the case of the Gambia, the border security measures put in place supports the government efforts in tackling human trafficking and maintaining safety of its nation despite the growing terrorism threats in the Sahel. With the continuing efforts by the Government, the President of the Gambia, his Excellency Adama Barrow, shared on Friday, March 17, 2023, on Star TV “Every country has its policies and if you assess other airports in the subregion our airport is the cheapest and Securiport is a project dealing with security”. With security-related technologies, BJL rates at a higher standard for airlines to increase the number of flights because “if your airport security is not good some flights will not even come to your airport” added President Barrow. The fees have been a matter of contestation which is why the government has taken steps to engage “the relevant stakeholders and we are expecting that within three months’ time it would be inculcated into the tickets” stated President Barrow. Understanding the complexity of border security, it is therefore crucial to have an efficient and effective system in place to manage border control like the one in the Gambia. When there is a pattern of illegal border crossings at a particular location, then additional resources can be allocated to this area. If there is a build-up of people at the border, then it can be detected, and the necessary measures can be taken in advance. As border control is intricate and a constantly evolving field, border security technologies can play a significant role in providing better decision support and improving security for the country.”