“Tariff Increments at BIA, a Scam Meant to Legitimize Operations of SecuriPort” – Aviation Expert

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A leading Gambian expert in aviation has expressed disappointment in the increment of tariffs at the Banjul International Airport, describing it as a scam designed to legitimize the operations of SecuriPort company in The Gambia.

His reaction comes on the heels of a press dispatch issued on January 13th, 2023, by the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) informing the stakeholders and the public about approved increments on Passenger Service Charges and Security Charges as well as a newly introduced Passenger Safety Levy effective May 1st, 2023.

The GCAA dispatch also revealed that Passenger Service Charges (PSC) would be increased from £10 to £15, Security Charges from £1.5 to $25, while Passenger Security Levy would be pegged at $5, arguing that the new tariff structures are necessitated by the desire to recover investments carried out at the BIA as well as improve the quality of service provision to visitors coming and going out of the country.

However, this development has triggered heated debates among the citizenry and various travel and tourism industry stakeholders who have since challenged the Government of The Gambia to justify its decision.

“My view on this increments of tariffs and passenger levy fees is only designed to legitimize the operations of the SecuriPort, who have been unjustly awarded a government contract without due diligence.

The new charges are inappropriate for me because there is nowhere in the world where arriving passengers are made to pay Airport charges,” the Expert disclosed.”

He added: “I have never seen this type of tariff increment in any part of the world, especially regarding a passenger Safety levy. If passengers are to pay it, it should go into the direct benefit of the passengers and cannot be used for any other purpose, including payments to GCAA sister organizations.”

He added: “I believe this whole issue is centered on matters of the SecuriPort Security Company that compelled the government to make such a prompt move. However, I would advise that this matter be scrapped if we are to continue attracting visitors into the country rather than unjustifiable policies that are far from international best practice.”

According to him, the government of President Adama Barrow has been caught red-handed for flagging all procurement processes leading to the awarding of contracts to SecuriPort, arguing the government is justifying the process by coming up with newly approved tariffs at the Banjul International Airport.

He observed that the illegal operation of SecuriPort at the Banjul International Airport has led to a significant loss of income to the government at the behest of both Gambians and travelers alike who bear the cost, adding that the recent Audit report published by National Audit Offices depicts clearly, covert operations of SecuriPort Company which is scooping millions of dalasi that could have been plowed back to improve the Airports security.

“The International best practice for any tariff increment recommends consultation with users to put in views relating to new charges before any final decision is taken. The process must involve passengers and users who should be allowed to put in their views before any final decision is taken, but this has not been the case in the Gambian scenario,” the Expert argued.

He added: “To avoid further embarrassment, the SecuriPort contract should be terminated. However, I will also advise the government to always play by the industry’s procedures and international best practices if it is to win the confidence of users and passengers using the BIA.”

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