Breaking News:About 500 European Tourists Could Not Dock AT GPA Due To Lack Of Tug Boat-GPA Officials Unveiled!
About 500 European Tourists Could Not Dock AT GPA Due To Lack Of Tug Boat-GPA Officials Unveiled!

Tug Boat Out Of Service For The Past Nine Months-GPA Insiders reported

GPA lost Millions of Dalasis as a result of Tug boat breakdown!

Clearing Agents Accused Maxline, The Gambia Shipping and The Maritime Shipping Agency of “illegal bill of lading charges.”

About five hundred European tourists on board a Norwegian boat, could not dock in the Gambia due to lack of tug boat, at the Gambia Ports Authority, well placed GPA officials told the Freedom Newspaper.The tug boat, which is normally used to receive incoming vessels into this country, by the GPA harbour captain has been out of service for the past nine months, according to ports insider who spoke to this paper. GPA dependable sources hinted that the tug boat had mechanical problems for the past couples of months, which ultimately undermines the tiny West African country’s maritime activities.The GPA, we gathered has suffered serious financial lost as a result of the tug boat break down. Our sources accused the GPA MD of not being concerned about the current tug boat problem, which is compelling foreign vessels scheduled  for Banjul to stay away from coming into this country. Our sources described the tug boat as the back bone of the GPA, which is used to help vessels to dock in our seaport. Without the tug boat continued our sources, the GPA captain cannot welcome foreign vessels, if only he takes the risk which according to this seasoned Maritime official could be detrimental to the nation’s seaport industry. The official warns of a possible Maritime disaster in the Gambia if the tug boat is not repaired and taken care of once and for all. “The GPA management is not demonstrating any serious interest in addressing  the  tug boat break down, which is out of service for the past nine months. This is a serious situation which needs urgent attention. There is bound to be seaport accident if the problem is not taken care of. That I can tell you. It’s risky for the captain to allow foreign vessels to dock here without the tug boat. Since the problems, we have not been receiving a lot of vessels. The Tourists boat could not dock due to lack of tug boat.”said the GPA insider.

Gambia’s fragile economy has been worsening in the recent past. With the GPA losing most of these foreign vessels, it’s likely that the institution might not meet its financial annual quota it usually allocates to the government. GPA relies mainly on foreign vessel tariff charges to sustain the institution.

Meanwhile, sources reaching this paper have accused three local shipping companies in the Gambia of reaping off clearing agents about  what they called “their bogus and clandestine bill of lading fees” imposed on local clearing agents. Maxline Gambia, The Gambia shipping and maritime shipping agency have been implicated in this alleged graft. The said companies have been accused of charging D5,400 Dalasis bill of lading fees to each container cleared from  the port. Our sources said there is no justification for such exorbitant fees imposed by the said shipping agencies.

The idea of bill of lading fee was first initiated in July of 1994, when the military junta toppled the 30 years PPP government by one Siamon Hakes a representative of Maxline Gambia. The move was calculated to generate some income as business was not moving at the time. Britain, US and other Western countries at the time have imposed sanctions against the Gambia. The initial fee for bill of lading was set at D250, but as time goes on prices kept jumping up.

As the situation appears, many clearing agents have been frustrated by the hikes on bill of lading fees. At a stakeholders meeting  in Banjul, a concerned clearing agent raised the issue with former Trade Minister Edward Singhatey, who promises to resolve the problem, but the problem still persist. Singhatey’s inaction has raises eyebrows among local clearing agents in this country. A concerned clearing agents who wished not to be named said if the current unofficial bill of lading continues, many businesses in the country will closed. The clearing agent accuses Maxline Gambia, The Gambia Shipping Agency, the Maritime Shipping Agency of exploiting poor businesses in the Gambia without any justification. The clearing agent therefore appealed to the Jammeh government to look into the activities of the shipping companies in the interest of national development.

In view of the uncondusive business climate in the Gambia, we heard, many companies are moving their businesses to neighbouring Senegal. The move was linked to high bill of lading fees among others.

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Posted on Sunday, March 18, 2007 (Archive on Monday, April 30, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI

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