By Sainey M.K. Marenah, Shout Africa Bureau Chief in Gambian Capital Banjul reporting – Following reports in 2008 about a pre-tax loss of D84 million registered by the Gambia International Airlines under the management of GS Aviation, a European airline operator, the question as to the status of the missing millions or losses incurred by the Gambia International Airlines from June to 31st December 2007 under GS Aviation engages the minds of many people each passing day.
According to Dr Njogu Bah, minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure, this question is the subject of the 2010 Public Accounts Committee/Public Enterprises Committee conclusion and recommendations, which were recently submitted to government at the highest level and for which appropriate action is being considered.
Dr Bah, who was responding to the question raised by Hon. Babanding KK Daffeh of Kiang Central constituency during the question and answer session at the National Assembly on Monday, said it is envisaged that the 2011 PAC/PEC session will be adequately updated on the development.
Deputies at the National Assembly were informed in 2008 by the then minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure, Lamin Bojang, that after one year of operations, the contract did not yield the results that the government had bargained for.
Bojang, who was at the time responding to a question raised by Hon. Abba Sanyang, Member for Foni Kansala constituency, as to the state of affairs at Gambia International Airlines after one year of implementation of the management contract, told deputies that during the period 1st June 2007 to 30th April 2008, GIA registered a turnover of D157 million while total operating expenses amounted to D241 million.
This, he added, saw a pre-tax loss of D84 million for the period under review, of which D66 million was incurred as a result of the 2007/8 hajj operations.
This revelation angered deputies at the National Assembly who then called for speedy investigations into the matter.
Hon. Abba Sanyang, Member for Foni Kansala, who was contributing to the adjournment debate in that year, noted that the saga has all the portents of impending disgrace to the nation and, as such, it should be handled with appropriate earnestness.
According to Hon. Sanyang, GIA under the management of GS Aviation after one year of operations returned to the Gambian people nothing, but a huge loss of D84m.
“After one year of operations, they have nothing to give us other than a D84m loss, and yet still they are owing lots of companies in this country,” he said in his contribution.
For Hon. Sanyang, it is better for GIA to make one thousand Dalasis profit a month than to have people coming up with their own system leading the country to unbearable losses.
He added that unless Gambians disabuse themselves from the tendency to be credulous and naïve and believe in themselves, the country would continue to move backwards.
“The reviewing of the contract should not only end there, but the authorities should mount up an investigation to have a clear view of what was going on at the GIA because this is an issue that should not be left like that,” he added.
Hon. Abba Sanyang’s concern was welcomed by virtually all the members of the National Assembly, who described the situation as unacceptable.
It would be recalled that the management of Gambia International Airlines (GIA) was contracted to GS Aviation, a supposedly experienced operator, with effect from 1st June 2007.
The contract, which was to run for an initial period of five years, was done as part of the Gambia Government’s long-term divestiture programme of public enterprises.
Meanwhile, the minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure also on the same day told deputies at the National Assembly that the contract for the rehabilitation of the streets of Banjul was signed, but has been terminated due to lack of performance.
Dr Njogu Bah, who was responding to another question raised by Hon. Abdoulie Saine of Banjul Central constituency, as to the situation regarding the contract, said the contract is now awarded to COPRI and work will commence in October, immediately after the rainy season.