By Ndey Sowe
The Association of Gambia Sailors, on Saturday December 29th, held its Annual General Meeting (AGM), at the Father Farrell Memorial Hall in Banjul. The association has a registered membership of 3000 across the country. The theme for this year’s AGS AGM was: “strengthening AGS for youth empowerment. Together we can.”
The main objective of the AGM according to the organisers, is to bring together the major stakeholders to work closely with the AGS in a bid to strengthen and harmonize their roles, understand the requirement of maritime regulations and map out possible areas of cooperation and development, in the coming year 2019.
In his open remarks, Abdou Sanyang, Secretary General of the AGS, said since their last meeting in December 16th 2017, a lot of water has gone under the proverbial bridge; that they have had their victories and challenges, and have learned lessons from them; that this makes them more resilient and strong.
Sanyang said during the year under review, they have been preoccupied with the task of providing deckhands to sea going vessels registered in the Gambia, especially to fishing vessels; that since January 2018 to date, they have given more than two hundred and twenty sailors to work as deckhands and cooks in seagoing vessels, which he said was done to improve members’ chances of employment. “We have started negotiations with several organizations in the Gambia and abroad. Continual training is part of the life of a sailor, and over the years, we have partnered with the Gambia Navy, Gambia Red Cross Society, Gambia Fire and Rescue Services, to informally train our members,’’ he said. Sanyang continued: “ I am happy to announce that negotiations are at a high level to establish our very first training School in accordance with regulations of the Gambia Maritime Administration (GMA),” he said.
Sanyang said the establishment of the School will mean that from henceforth, only graduates of the School will be certified to board vessels and that GMA will issue a national seafarers and employment records book, to competent and medically fit seafarers.
The guest speaker at the meeting who is also the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources Dr. Bamba Banja, said as a Ministry, they value their relationship with the Association of Gambia Sailors, and recognized the partnership between them and the AGS. He highlighted the role of his Ministry in assisting and supporting AGS, and to look on the potential areas of cooperation between them.
Dr. Banja harped on the potential impact of the AGS, and said the policy of Government for the fisheries sector is to ensure sustainable exploitation of the country’s fish resources, that this will enable and assured AGS members of employment; that for this to happen, they must collectively ensure that the country’s resources are sustainably manage for the benefit of posterity.
“As a Government we have a policy objective to develop industrial fisheries. We cannot develop industrial fisheries in the absence of the AGS. We have to collectively work together to develop this very important industry,” he said.
He assures the sailors that they will work as partners to allocate the training School for them, and will try to increase their salaries by the first quarter of next year.
He adviced members to respect the payment of their membership dues, and to make sure that they fulfill their obligations towards their association.