By Hon. Touma Njie, National Assembly Member for Banjul South
Last night I was at the Golden Beach Hotel to deliver dinner to my diabetic mother as she has a specific diet for her health. This was the same routine I had completed the previous night of Saturday 21st March 2020. I then demanded to talk to the hotel manager on the condition of the hotel as I was made to understand that Golden Beach Hotel was recently used for quarantining travellers from Brussels Airlines.
I wanted to enquire if the Hotel was disinfected before the next batch of guests (including my mum) were hosted in the Hotel. I wanted to know and parked at the gate demanding for the Hotel Manager to provide an update or else I would not move. He came out and we discussed amicably and he promised he was going to clean all the rooms, indicating that the rooms were not initially disinfected.
After my discussion and moving my vehicle to the side an officer walked towards me trying to intimidate me. I then told him my mind of course and asked him why he didn’t come whilst I was parked at the gate and left it until I moved to the side. We exchanged words when I told him that I shall ask questions even to the highest authorities ie the President if I see any act of injustice as it’s my job to speak up.
The following Sunday, I again brought breakfast and lunch with no incident. It’s when I brought dinner for my mum that the incident occurred.
Previously, I had requested for my mum to be checked by a doctor and for the travellers be moved to a better hotel as others were being given better hotels with better living conditions. I had never used my position for any preferential treatment as I believe in equality for all, this is what I am known for. My concern was why some travellers from the same flight were given preferential treatment and others including my mother had to endure the dire conditions at the Golden Beach Hotel. Some individuals had even been allowed to go home from the airport. However, my mum and others were taken by the bus to the hotel and this is what should have happened to all passengers to ensure the general safety of the Gambian public.
However, our question now must be why the preferential treatment? Had I gone to forcefully release my mum I would have been on my feet by the gate not waiting for them to collect the food with my engine still running. There was never a time that the issue of my mum being there came about as they have no authority to release her. They are only there to ensure security.
She would not have even been able to ride in my car as per quarantine control conditions which I knew and respected. I had earlier questioned the fact of others not being quarantined and that must have angered some people. I am not accusing anyone but I think orders were given to have a watch on me. I had informed the health authorities of my mother’s medical condition before she arrived and the arrangement was agreed upon. I was concerned why those arrangements were not relayed and I asked questions. The Doctor in charge told me he was not advised about the health arrangements for my mum, but he was very professional and helpful. He immediately visited my mum and gave me feedback. This was very comforting. I even mentioned it to the Health Authorities in charge.
To say that I was forcefully trying to remove my mother is a gross misrepresentation of what happened for reasons unknown to me. I was at the gate but never once did I request to the security that I wished to inspect the place as I have to protect myself as well as respect quarantine procedures. Even the food bowls I take I do not collect just not to be exposed to quarantined persons. That is how protective I am to my environment.
I denied the charges and have indicated that in my statement to the Police. I’m reiterating my demand for people being quarantined to be provided conditions which is fit for purpose. Failure to do this will lead to more people evading quarantine as currently being observed.