By Momodou Jarju
International flights are expected to start landing in The Gambia, as the smallest country in mainland Africa is set to reopen its airport by end of October 2020, amid tight health regulations.
The Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure (MOICI) said in a dispatch in its weekly Inter-Ministerial Press Conference held last Friday. They said renovation works at the main Terminal building is near completion, in time for the start of the 2020/2021 tourist season.
“The refurbished main Terminal building will provide more space for both passengers and luggage handling at the arrival and departure halls, and will also have more space for offices, shops, and a VIP hall, in the upper floor of the Terminal,” the ministry said in a statement.
Similarly, the dispatch stated that the Control Tower of the airport has been refurbished and upgraded fitted with installations and new communication gadgets for Air Traffic Controllers.
It said the refurbishment project at the Banjul International Airport is aimed at improving the working environment at the airport, making it more secure, effective, efficient, and competitive.
“When the airport is re-opened, preventive and mitigation measures will be in place to enhance safe and efficient operations of air transport, passengers, pilots, and crew,” it added.
In another development from the ministry of women, children and social welfare, MOICI said the aforesaid ministry has set up a helpline to address gender-based violence in The Gambia. The helpline which is a toll-free number is 1313.
MOICI said the launch of the helpline is intended to help respond to the needs of victims and survivors recover from the trauma they experience and help them reintegrate into their normal lives.
“The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare has documented child abuse, early and forced marriages and female genital mutilation as some of the main harmful practices affecting young girls and women in The Gambia,” the ministry said.
On tourism and culture, MOICI stated the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) is partnering with the German National Commission for UNESCO to support communities around the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in The Gambia as part of efforts to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on these communities.
The said project will support communities in Kunta Kinteh Island and Related Sites in Juffureh through skills acquisition, community outreach and peer exchange.
The ministry said these activities will enable the NCAC to engage community tour guides, women groups and youth to improve their skills in various activities that will help add value to the Juffureh/Albreda destination.
“Moreover, it will help to strengthen the community relations between the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the communities,” MOICI said.
On infrastructure projects, MOICI said President Adama Barrow will launch several infrastructure projects across the country starting Saturday 26th September 2020.
“The first project to be launched is the long-awaited Hakalang Road Project in the Nuimis, covering over 84 kilometres which is fully funded by the Gambia Government. On the same day, President Barrow will also lay the foundation stone for the construction of the new office and residence of the Governor of the North Bank Region. The President will also lay the foundation stones for the construction of the 24 kilometre Senegambia corridor from Kerr Ayib to Senoba on the 1st of October, the construction of the Jarra Soma and Farafenni Markets and the Toll Booths on the Senegambia Bridge.
“On 3rd October, the President will lay the foundation stone for the construction of the Basse Market which was ravaged by fire in February 2020. Contracts for the construction of the new state of the earth Basse Market have already been awarded to two local construction firms to the tune of over 70 million Dalasis funded entirely by The Gambia Government. Other foundation stones for road construction to be laid by the President within the next three weeks include the 10km Mbye Kunda access road in the URR, the Kaur to Kerr Jimbala road and Ngeyen Sanjal road. All these roads are funded by the government,” MOICI revealed.