Over 70 GID Officers Trained in Horsemanship


By Assan Bah

The government of The Netherlands on Friday, 7 June 2024, concluded a five-day capacity-building training on horsemanship for over 70 front-line officers of the Gambia Immigration Department (GID), to enable the officers to adequately deal with ‘vulnerable’ travelers and people with special needs.

The Horsemanship training, which was held at the Banjul International Airport’s GID training hall, was the first Horsemanship training in the Gambia, and the third on the African continent.

Superintendent Pa OusmanManneh, Admin, and Liaison Officer of GID at the Banjul International Airport, said the training will avail them the opportunity to understand and respond to travelers with psychological or emotional stress.

“Horsemanship entails the act or process of welcoming people. When you look at the GID’s mandate, is to consolidate the movement of people into and within the country, among other responsibilities. We are the first and last point of contact for people coming in and out of the country, meaning that we are responsible for welcoming and bidding farewell to all the passengers coming into and going out of the country,” he said.

According to Mr. Manneh, this is the first Horsemanship training in the Gambia, and seventy-five officers from the GID’s Airport branch and other sectors have been trained. 

“It is important to remember that a lot of people, who travel by air, go with a lot of psychological and emotional stress. This training will empower GID officials to understand and better respond to the problems of these travelers when they are stressed,” Mr. Manneh said, urging his colleagues to share what they have learned with others.

“The training is important that we need to share the knowledge with our colleagues because when dealing with people, you need to understand them and serve them with courtesy, professionalism, and a smile. Living these travelers with a smile will enhance their experience and relieve their stress,’’ he said. 

He continued that the training would not only impact their work, but their personal lives as well, and on how they deal with others in a dignified way by respecting them, understanding their psychology in trying to realize when to act and how to act, and on how to listen to them. He called on his colleagues to take the course seriously and ensure that it impacts on their work. He expressed gratitude to the Dutch government for the support and the GID for initiating what he called ‘an important training’. He further called on the Dutch government to provide more of its kind to not only GID officers but to other sister forces in the country.

In his remarks to the GID Officers, Mr. Van Bokhoven, the Director of International Affairs of one of the Migration Agencies of the Netherlands and trainer, expressed his country’s commitment to further strengthen the relationship between the Netherlands and The Gambia on migration matters, and to explore other possibilities for collaboration. He said the training targeted GID staff responsible for border control as requested by the Director of the GID, in professionalizing his department. 

“Horsemanship is a philosophy that has been introduced to colleagues from several immigration departments across the world, and it started with our border control at the international airport of Schiphol in The Netherlands,’’ Mr. Van Bokhoven said.

According to him, the Gambia is the third country in Africa, to receive the Horsemanship training. The training, he said, would be implemented in three phases, beginning with the training of over 70 border control staff during the first phase.