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OPINION: Another corruption scandal set to erupt at the Ports involving Office of the President?
Home » News  »  OPINION: Another corruption scandal set to erupt at the Ports involving Office of the President?
OPINION: Another corruption scandal set to erupt at the Ports involving Office of the President?

I am writing to you to highlight and share my perspective on something important taking place in The Gambia at the moment and some potential irregularities concerning this all-significant public process with serious implications for Gambians.

As you are aware, the port of Gambia has suffered from serious under-investment in the last decades leading to its efficiencies being low and its usage costs being very high. Besides the high usage cost of the port itself, the shipping lines charge significant congestion surcharges to cover the costs of ships having to wait for days and weeks before they are docked at the port. This has a hugely detrimental effect on Gambian trade, its export competitiveness but most importantly the cost of food and everyday consumer goods.

To address this, the Government of The Gambia, quite sensibly, launched an international tender process to identify a qualified operator for Banjul in early 2022. There was a lot of interest and many global companies put in their bids by the deadline in November 2022.

The tender was guided by one of the premier maritime consultancy companies globally and a tender committee comprising qualified Gambian professionals and senior Government figures were formed to evaluate these proposals.

The tender committee submitted its formal recommendation report to the Office of the President identifying the recommended investor/operator for the Banjul container terminal in early December 2022 with the intention that the outcome of this tender and the recommended operator is approved by the Presidency soon after their report submission paving the way for an immediate injection of investment, expertise and technology in the container terminal.

However, two months have passed since and there is no approval of the recommendation yet from the Presidency. People in the know of the process are concerned that the process has the risk of being subverted at this stage ignoring the robust and transparent process that was followed.

This concern shall be shared by the entire Gambian population as this affects everyone in The Gambia. Not only as this, with an investment value of over GMD 10 billion, is the largest ever PPP project for The Gambia but also as its success shall affect Gambian lives for many decades to come.

Several questions arise. What could this delay or the sudden pause in the process mean? Something sinister? Another act of corruption?

Written by friend of the Gambian Economy

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