By Ndey Sowe
The Gambia Immigration Department (GID) officials have appealed to Government to provide them with mobility and logistics in order to reinforce and ensure their preparedness in the fight against the Corona virus.
This appeal from GID officials came during the weekend when they embarked on a two-day tour of the country’s border posts which is under their control, in order to contain the spread of the virus by ensuring the strict restriction of people’s movement in and out of the country.
Salifu Jain, the Commanding Officer at Bagiran village sub-border post at Gibboro said they face mobility issues with only one vehicle and eleven routes to patrol; that since the Presidential Declaration in March, they took it upon themselves to restrict the movement of people across the borders through routine patrols.
“We are in Bagiran village. This a point with loopholes from Gibboro all the way here,” he lamented; that Bagiran is less than one hundred meters from the border in Casamance. Salifu explained that they face challenges during this time with motorbike using smaller pathways to sneak in and cross over to the Gambian side; that this is why he mounted a check point at Bagiran to bar entry to their neighbors.
“We have been intercepting many people coming in and since we cannot send our fellow Gambians back, we tell them to wash their hands and escort them to the nearest station for medical attention,” he said.
Regarding Senegalese nationals, Salifu said they send them back from where they come from; that some travel early in the morning just to sneak in and try to cross the border.
Superintendent Mamanding S. Dibba, the Spokesperson of GID, said they intercepted a fishing boat that arrived with people from the neighboring country of Senegal and were subjected to quarantine.
Regarding mobility at border points, Spokesperson Dibba said this is something they have concern on and the officials of the Department will be immediately notified.
“We are aware of the efforts of the management of GID Officers and we are cooperating with other partners at the central Government level to boost the logistic needs of our frontline officers. We are trying very hard to restrict all crossings at the country’s land borders, and we are equally doing well on the coast line to ensure that boats are restricted as well,” he said; that they have decided to boost border patrols to reinforce the patrol teams with extra man power and logistics to the extent of redeploying some of the vehicles from headquarters and inland stations to the borders, to support their operations.
According to this reporter, border lines of the Gambia and Senegal are very stretched between entry points and this poses the issue of mobility as the biggest challenge to Gambia’s Immigration border patrol teams; that as a result, border patrol teams cannot effectively carry out border surveillance without enough vehicles.