By Nelson Manneh
The Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) on Monday March 2nd 2020, presented the activity reports and financial statements of the GPA to the Public Enterprise Committee (PEC) of the National Assembly for the year end 31st December 2017.
Halifa Sallah, the National Assembly Member for Serrekunda and Chairperson of the Committee reminded members of the GPA that they were gathered for a purpose and it was important for them to reflect on that purpose prior to the presentation of their reports.
“We are here based on a constitutional mandate. Section 175 of the Constitution, subsection 4, makes it obligatory for the National Assembly to establish a Committee whose role is to make sure that Public Enterprises are accountable to the National Assembly and for the committee to monitor their operations to ensure that they adhere to the principles of efficiency and transparency,” he said; that Public Enterprises are to submit their annual reports and financial statements within three months of the end of a financial year, but that the provision also added that the Committee is mandated to extend the time for the submission of these report.
“We have experienced backlogs in the submission of reports and had to cover the backlogs in order to have a fair view of the state of affairs of each Public Enterprise in order to enable the Committee to accompany the Public Enterprises towards greater viability,” he said; that it is the duty of the Committee to review reports and financial statements and to visit institutions in order to make sure that what is provided in the report, is confirmed on the ground; that they are not able to do that part of their work by virtue of the fact that they are unable to put an end to these backlogs.
Ousman Jobarteh, the Managing Director of the GPA said their report gives an overview of the ownership structure of the Gambia Ferry Services as a Company with legal entity of its own and with 80% ownership by the Gambia Ports Authority and 20% by Government through the Ministry of Finance.
Jobarteh said the Ferry Services provides various services within the Gambia River and that two of the most important crossing points are the Trans Gambia Bridge at Yelli Tenda/BambaTenda and the Banjul/Barra crossing point.
“In 2017 in terms of performance, the total operating revenue was raised from D240 Million in 2016 to D265.6 Million in 2017. This represented an increase of 11% during the period under review,’’ he said; that gross profit increased from D145.5 Million in 2016 to D168.3 Million in 2017 and the loss after tax also increased from D0.9 Million to D8.4 Million in 2017. He said the results were mainly due to the increase cost of Insurance of the ferries.
“In terms of numbers, passengers ferried across the country in 2017 were 4.2 Million of which 2.6 crossed through the Banjul/Barra crossing point. 1.4 crossed through the Trans/Gambia and the remaining through provincial crossing points,” he said.
In terms of vehicular traffic, he said two hundred and ninety five thousand and thirty seven vehicles crossed the river; that this showed an increase of 2,674 vehicles when compared to the previous year.
‘‘The ‘Banjul’ and ‘Barra’ ferries accounted for one hundred and sixty five thousand and one hundred and thirty six vehicles alone whilst eighty six thousand, seven hundred and seven vehicles crossed the Trans Gambia Bridge and the rest through provincial stations,” he said.
Ismaila Wadda, the Director of Finance at the GPA took Members of PEC through the financial statement in which he outlined some of the key areas of the statement. He explained the achievements made by the ferry services in the year under review.
Ebriama Jadama, a representative of the External Auditors read out to the Members some of the observations and recommendations made by them during the audit process; that Management of the GPA responded to the issues raised by the External Auditors.