Ibrahim L Dampha, a former employee of Gambia Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) who now works at the University of London School of Economics and Political Science, UK, has said that the collapse and subsequent death of a British woman at Banjul International Airport is unfortunate and could have been avoided under a credible and transparent leadership at the GCAA.
The death of a British woman, an outbound passenger, was reported on social media on Sunday following her collapse “inside a duty-free shop” at Banjul International Airport.
In a statement, the UK-based young Gambian attributed this unfortunate incident, reportedly caused by poor cooling facilities at the Airport, as a demonstration of inept leadership and corruption at the GCAA.
“The cost of a good Air conditioning cost less than D30,000. Mind you, the Director General has more than five travels lined up even after the Presidential declaration of a travel ban. Each of his travels cost the Gambian taxpayers more than 2,500 pounds, equivalent to around D200,000, sufficient to buy at least six full-standing cooling systems. Five of his travels can buy thirty cooling systems to cool the entire terminal building. Sadly, they will circumvent the travel ban and get the Chief of Staff at the Office of the President to indiscriminately approve unnecessary travels under the name ‘exceptional circumstance.’ Dampha believes that the Authority has misplaced priorities, driven by its Director General as his personal property.
Former GCAA employee continued: “The British woman is the latest victim of poor cooling system induced by inept leadership and corruption at the Airport. There are Departments/Units at GCAA without a cooling system and some staff without working space. These hardworking Gambians work in an unhealthy environment daily to serve their country but dare not complain. Because they will either be blacklisted and suppressed or even threatened with dismissal. The staff working conditions are appalling, and treatment of passengers, even worse.”
Mr. Dampha also called for thoughtful and proactive leadership at the GCAA as the regulator of Gambia’s aviation sector, citing the Airport’s significance to the country’s socioeconomic development. He argued that this avoidable incident has the potential to adversely affect destination Gambia amidst high hopes of a booming tourism season this year.
“I implore the government to critically look at the leadership of GCAA and examine its modus operandi to reverse the corruption trend and fix up the inadequacies to regain our lost glory for improved competition in the global aviation industry,” Dampha entreated.
Ibrahim L Dampha, who believes he has been wrongfully dismissed in the recent past by Gambia Civil Aviation Authority for a Facebook opinion shared regarding the unpopular Airport security fees, is currently seeking legal redress at the High Court of the Gambia; the case is expected to resume in November 2023.