By: Momodou Justice Darboe
The Managing Director of the Gambia Ports Authority(GPA), Mr. Ousman Jobarteh, has disclosed that cargo diversion to neighboring ports is hindering business at theBanjul Port.
Consequently, he highlighted the need for the new GPA board to be invested in the issue which, he described, as a major challenge to the ports.
Speaking at the African Princess Hotel on Tuesday duringthe opening ceremony of the first retreat for GPA’s newly constituted Board, Mr. Jobarteh said: “The retreat is for stocktaking and also to chart the way forward for 2024 and beyond. The importance of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) to macro-economic development needs not to be emphasized because we are all together in it. But one major challenge that we would like the board to engage in is the cargo diversion to neighboring ports, which is really affecting the business at the ports. That’s one major challenge that we’re facing right now.”
The GPA boss said despite the challenges that the port battles, it can be easy to transform if actors utilize their diversity.
“We have our challenges. We have our own misgivings as I said but if we harness our diversity, we will have a good product. It is a small port and easy to develop but the legacy that we want to leave behind should be our main motivation,” he stressed.
He earnestly called on the participants to engage in frankdiscussions during the retreat to ensure delivery upon return to their offices.
“What it calls for is to harness our diversity and to also allow our misgivings because we are human and talk to each other with honesty and truthfulness,” Mr. Jobartehemphasized. He continued: “Expect that, by the time you go out of the retreat, some of the challenges as far as the policy issues are concerned, the board will assist the management to put those in place, and when we go back to our offices as the chairman said, we should make sure we deliver.”
The GPA MD further urged the participants to bond further during the retreat.
“As colleagues, I would urge this retreat allows us to bond further because we’ve been bonding all along as a good part of the day, we spend together more than even our own biological dependents,” he stated.
Mr. Jobarteh advised the participants to assume responsibility for finding solutions to problems for efficient and effective delivery.
“Most time what I urge the staff to do is to take the initiative rather than passing the buck,” he explained. “If we take the initiative, we will solve problems and it would also cascade down because training is by mentorship. The first place of training is in the office. Make sure you work diligently so that the staff that are below will also copy from you and ensure that we deliver the product that is expected.”
He emphasized that the GPA’s main shareholder is the Gambian public.
“Our main shareholder is the Gambian public and all our activities should translate to impact their lives in a positive way. So with that, I hope we will come out of the retreat with some good statements that would translate into positive activity as we move along with them,” the GPA boss noted.
Speaking earlier, the GPA Board Chairman, Mr. KebbaTamsier Njie, described the retreat as an opportunity for the board and the senior management of the GPA to get to know each other as far as their work is concerned and their direction as a team in achieving a breakthrough.
According to Mr. Njie, the GPA Board was appointed during a period of major transformations at the ports.
“The board is appointed at a time when the Authority is undergoing a major transformation, first in the governance environment with the promulgation of new instruments by Government such as SOE Act, Performance Contract and the establishment of the SOE Commission,” he acknowledged.
“Another important aspect is the PPP concession being conceived to attract the new needed investment to improve efficiency at the Banjul Port and the Development of a new Deepsea Port in Sanyang,” the board chair added.
He explained that the retreat was aimed at reviewing the 1972 Act to align it with the changing circumstances since its promulgation five decades ago. The board chair said the retreat was also designed to replace the GPA’s 2019/2023 corporate strategic plan of 2024/2027 as well as consider its 2024 budget, annual procurement, and corporate plans.
He highlighted that the retreat was also aimed at providing a platform for the Board to consider the National Audit report on the revenue leakage at the Traffic Department of the Authority and to take decisions towards the full and appropriate implementation of all the audit findings and recommendations.