By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
A letter dated 4th January 2022 from the Management of Gambia Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has fired one Mr Ebrima L Dampha for blowing the whistle on the $20 physical payment for airport “Safety Fee” by passengers at Banjul International Airport (BIA). According to Mr Dampha, the levy paid by passengers for disembarking and boarding flights from Banjul’s Yundum Airport has already been charged on passenger flights.
The dismissal letter from the GCAA Board of Directors noted that a Board meeting held on 21st December 2021 had “unanimously agreed for [Mr Ebrima L Dampha] to be dismissed from the services of the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority with immediate effect”.
On the reasons for Mr Dampha’s dismissal, the letter impressed that “the decision was premised on [Mr Dampha’s] violation of the provisions of SSR (0713) which states that no employee should contribute to any publication of any matter that reasonably can be regarded as relating to the functions and activities of the Authority”.
“Additionally, the same provision states that no employee without the expressed permission of the Director-General will express an opinion for publication on any matter affecting the organisation or work of the authority” concluded the letter from the GCAA Board of Directors.
Allegations of GCAA Director-General Collecting Cash
Reacting to his dismissal, Mr Dampha took to social media to vent his frustration and declare that he would be taking the GCAA to court. According to Mr Dampha, “following [his] Facebook opinion on the $20 (twenty Dollar) physical cash collection from travelling passengers in Banjul International Airport, the Director-General of The Gambia Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), FANSU BOJANG, has spearheaded the termination of my service as a Human Resource and Admin Officer of GCAA“.
“Knowing full well that he cannot singlehandedly terminate my service, because of my Grade Level, he presented a Board paper to the Board of Directors (in the absence of many Ex-officio members) and successfully manipulated them to agree to my dismissal. Yes, I am dismissed because of a Facebook post which unveiled a perpetual wrongdoing”, said the former University of the Gambia Student Union President.
According to Mr Dampha’s post, the Director was involved in the physical cash collection of $20 from passengers. Below is an excerpt from Mr Dampha’s post which attracted the attention of the Director-General.
“Unimaginable! A full-fledged Director standing and facilitating the collection of PHYSICAL CASH- 20 Dollars from passengers embarking and disembarking. This tells how redundant, inessential and mediocre some of our people could be,” said Mr Dampha.
In his view “the process is completely [un]transparent, no one is accountable for anything. Money just flowing left right centre just like that, in the pretext of safety and security fee when such charges are already levied on passenger tickets!”
Speaking to Mr Dampha via telephone he informed Gainako that his lawyers are preparing a legal challenge for his unlawful dismissal and additional charges which should be filed sometime this week.
Securiport Passenger Safety Fee 4th August 2020
The first time that the public got wind of the “passenger safety fee” was back in August 2020. A leaked letter from Securiport titled “Brief for Airline Operators Regarding Passenger Safety Fee” started making the rounds. The communique from Securiport noted that a letter-numbered “TR 4/287/01/PART II (62) Dated 4th August 2020 from the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Transport, Works & Infrastructure (MoT) been cleared to implement the fee through the erection of fee collection kiosks at both arrivals and departures”.
Detailing how the payment was to be collected the letter addressed to Country Managers of “All Airline Operators / Agents” of over 19 different airline companies instructed “that passengers prior to booking in for departures will be processed for payment of the Safety Fee as they enter the check-in area. Similarly, passengers arriving at BIA arrivals will be processed for payment of the safety fee prior to clearing through immigration”.
According to the letter “as per the contract entered between Securiport and the Government of the Gambia, through the Ministry of Interior (MoI), it is a prerequisite that ALO’s issue Securiport the Gambia with a copy of all passenger flight manifests”.
The letter bullishly urged Airline Operators “to inform their passengers of this eventuality to avoid embarrassment to them. It must be further borne in mind that this is a government directive and will be enforced”.
GCAA Implementation of Safety Fee Letter 1st September 2020
The implementation of the Security Fee Levy was confirmed when another letter dated 1st September 2020 from GCAA Director General Sulayman Jammeh addressed to State House and Government Ministries started making the rounds.
According to the letter titled “Implementation of the Immigration Security System Levy at Banjul International Airport” the process of collecting US$20 from passengers will commence “with immediate effect”.
To that effect “collection booths have been erected at the airport to manually collect the levy from passengers. Each departing passenger will pay US$ whilst each arriving passenger will pay US$20. In this regard, airlines/operators are advised to bring this development to the attention of their passengers”.
Gainako will be following the story on the Airport Safety Fee and the status of the legal proceedings between Mr Ebrima Dampha and the GCAA.