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|T O P I C R E V I E W
|Posted - 16 Sep 2022 : 15:02:55
MALAGEN: $20 AIRPORT SECURITY FEE CAUSED D274M ECONOMIC LOSS TO STATE
The Standard: SEPTEMBER 16, 2022
The Standard has been granted a privileged access to Malagen’s latest investigative story which exposes malpractices in the contract and operation of the US-based company collecting $20 security levy at the Banjul International Airport.
The Gambia government has signed a contract with Securiport to provide aviation and immigration security, starting 2018.
However, the contract could not start until Sept. 2019 when the levy was imposed on inbound and outbound passengers, instead of initial plans of charging it to the tickets, which failed.
Yet, the company has billed the government to pay $4.5m as accrued arrears. The contract was also extended from 10 to 15 years for the same delay, according to the story.
Malagen has revealed further that the contract was negotiated from the Office of the President, and despite opposition from key ministries such as tourism and justice, it was signed and implemented in what has been queried as violation of public procurement and public finance rules.
“The introduction of $20 security levy at the airport has caused possible financial loss of at least D274m to the state. And the party has just started. It has just been three years, 11 more years to go,” the report state.
The full investigative report would be released by Malagen today at 5pm.
Related Topic: Nordic Leisure cancels operations to Gambia
|11 L A T E S T R E P L I E S (Newest First)
|Posted - 04 Oct 2022 : 14:38:31
SNIPPET from the above posting:
"Mbow replied: “With the third-party collections, the example I can give is the Securiport collections at the [Banjul] airport. The accountant general’s office is mandated to collect every penny that belongs to the Gambia government. So, nobody has authority to make any collections on behalf of the government unless and until the person or authority has been delegated to do so by the Accountant General. So, we as parliament must ensure that that right must not be taken by anybody. This is by law from the Public Finance Act 2014. So, if somebody else is collecting [levies] on behalf of the government it is against the law and they are doing at the Senegambia Bridge.”
The committee further recommended to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs to ensure that revenue collection by third parties is stopped by the end of 2021 and handed over to Accountant General’s Department.
It's now the 4th of October2022, has any development or progress been made as the time for visitors to Gambia , The Smiling Coast, is fast approaching and people want to book flights and make arrangements.
|Posted - 28 Sep 2022 : 16:30:20
FPAC says only Accountant General can collect state revenues, not third parties
SEPTEMBER 28, 2022
By Tabora Bojang
Presenting the 2019-2021 report of the Finance and Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly Monday, vice chairman Alhagie Mbow reported that although it is the Accountant General’s department that is mandated by law to be responsible for revenue collection from all sources, “payments for the Securiport and scanning fees at the airport are collected by third parties.”
Asked by Minority Leader Alhagie S Darboe of Brikama North to explain what third party collections may entail, Mbow replied: “With the third-party collections, the example I can give is the Securiport collections at the [Banjul] airport. The accountant general’s office is mandated to collect every penny that belongs to the Gambia government. So, nobody has authority to make any collections on behalf of the government unless and until the person or authority has been delegated to do so by the Accountant General. So, we as parliament must ensure that that right must not be taken by anybody. This is by law from the Public Finance Act 2014. So, if somebody else is collecting [levies] on behalf of the government it is against the law and they need to correct that as soon as possible to make sure that the Accountant General takes charge of the duties given to them by law just like they are doing at the Senegambia Bridge.”
The committee further recommended to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs to ensure that revenue collection by third parties is stopped by the end of 2021 and handed over to Accountant General’s Department.
|Posted - 27 Sep 2022 : 14:31:30
So not an Airport Security fee ?
For the first time since the publication of an investigative report on the controversial airport security fee sparked uproar among Gambians, President Barrow has spoken on the issue.
According to Jamaanoo news online, President Barrow told a gathering of Gambian community in New York that “the $20 airport security levy will help the country in terms of development”.
The news portal further quoted Barrow as saying that what has proven to be flawed is the manner the levy is collected, but as for security, it is important because every airport is assessed and rated according to its security.
“We wanted it to be included in the ticket but for it to be in the ticket is not the prerogative of The Gambia. The ticketing system is international, so to include it there is difficult,” the president said.
“But we are trying to get it included because it’s $20. And I know everyone in this country goes to The Gambia once every year and I believe it’s reasonable that one gives D1,000 or D2,000 to The Gambia. We want people to pay because everyone wants development,” he said.
|Posted - 27 Sep 2022 : 10:25:54
Unethical: IT IS DISHONESTY TO PRESENT PUBLIC RELATIONS OR PAID CONTENT AS NEWS!
Gambian journalism is dropping the ball. Once again, it is being used to attack itself by a private company.
A story by Gambian investigative journalism magazine has confirmed our fears that the Securiport contract has violated public procurement laws, public finance regulations and all due processes relating to awarding the contract.
After the story was published, a pro-government website called Jamanoo was the first to publish a PR piece when activist Sait Matty Jaw landed at the airport and refused to pay the $20. Sait went online to announce that his passport got confiscated by immigration for his refusal to pay the $20 so-called security fee.
A senior official at the Ministry of Interior informed Open Gambia that it was Interior Minister Seyaka Sonko who took Lamin Njie to the Airport. The interior minister facilitating the visit would explain why Njie had access even to verify their CCTV footage to confirm Sait’s presence at the Airport.
It is interesting why Njie, who called his barely an hour guarded tour at the Airport an “investigation”, was given access while Malagen’s journalist Mustapha Swandi K Darboe got refused entry. Darboe said in his media interviews on Gunjur Online Media and For the People by the People Show that the leadership of the GCCA refused even to grant him an interview.
The airport had no interest in transparency. If they did, they would have made a proactive disclosure of information relating to the contract. They would also have made the contract document public. They had access to the audit of the National Audit Office too. They would have made that public too. The same could be said of the central government.
Their goal, shown by their PR attempts using Jamanoo, shows they are only interested in coverups. No transparency.
Nothing Malagen published was secret to the President, Ministry of Finance, GCCA or any relevant state institution that is a party to either signing or implementing this contract.
Njie quote an unnamed source for information that is basic and non-controversial, alas, totally PR, “But how much do Gambians understand this programme and its benefits?”
That is, by all standards, a poor attempt at even doing PR. The Malagen story is evident in the basics. The contract with the Securiport failed to go through any due diligence test. No GPPA. No PPP. Ministry of Justice opposed it and told them not to sign it.
The Ministry of Tourism told them it would kill tourism. Already that is proven by the pull-out from the Gambia by the tour operators Nordic. More importantly, the MOJ was clear to them that Semlex could do what the Securiport was doing for free, and Simplex agreed with the Ministry’s interpretation of the Semlex contract that they would do it for free. Yet, they went ahead and signed it. That is not normal behaviour. Those are issues the PR story failed to address.
And why is no one talking about the money? It is understood from the Malagen story that after signing the contract, the Gambia government took 18 months trying to figure out where to put the cost burden. The International Air Transport Association refused to have it on the ticket. The government wrote to the Securiport, conveying this frustration and asking for more time. The company wrote to the government agreeing to give time to the government but with an addendum.
And what did they seek? Contract extension for five years for an 18 months delay. Then, after that, they billed the Gambia government to pay 4.5 million dollars for the delay that led them to get a five-year extension.
And whose fault was even the delay?
The Ministry of Justice had made it clear that the contract was frustrated because its practical implementation was caused by a third party outside the control of the Gambia government and the Securiport. What is common sense to Jamanoo? Do you delay a contract for 18 months and get five years extension and a $4.5 million payment for the same?
What happens to the audit of the supreme audit office of the Gambia?
What happens to journalism in the Gambia that a journalist can take speculation and empty opinion and neglect the facts?
Malagen did investigations spanning months and reviewed the contract.
The National Audit Office did investigations spanning months and reviewed the contract. And their conclusions are denied by people who are interested parties and also not showing any evidence to back their claims.
The Jamanoo story said that “Securiport is an American company that provides security solutions through the latest technology.” And what is that latest technology? Our informants have informed us that the company is using Redmine. And we know, through the Malagen report, that the Immigration of the Gambia handles a far more sophisticated technology than Redmine, the Migration Information and Data Analysis System.
Meanwhile, there are even allegations that Securiport is buying electronic gates from China for $26 000 and selling them to its subsidiaries in Africa for $309 000. We got told the Securiport claimed its investment at the Airport is more than 12 million dollars, but their former staff has alleged that their total investment could be less than $1 million. And even if their investment is higher, who verifies that? Gambian officials whose auditors are telling them one thing, but they are believing the other?
The Jamanoo PR story continued: “Now, with Securiport’s automated kiosks, gates and computers, it takes only minutes to authenticate people’s identities at the airport.” This is ridiculous! The Gambia immigration is doing the same, if not more, with MIDAS at the land borders without the help of anyone. Doesn’t a journalist living in the Gambia know that?
Meanwhile, after the Jamanoo story failed to silence the people or make them disbelieve Malagen and the National Audit Office, the Securiport continued the PR. This time they were using national newspapers. The Standard and others published what appeared to be written by the company and sent it to them.
Those of us who know about the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) would know why the Securiport appears so desperate to refute what are basic facts. It is laughable the Securiport claims to be beneficial to tourism that its payment at the Airport is killing.
The Standard story quotes the Securiport to have said that they first came to the Gambia in 2016. That is true, as we have read in the Malagen report, but it did not flag with the Jammeh administration. But they came back again after the change of power barely three years later. Why? Why didn’t they go to GIEPA? Or through PPP at Finance? Gambians are all too familiar with companies that go to OP and get their blessings to thwart procurement processes to get government contracts. We are also familiar with “international” companies that jump from one African government to another with unsolicited proposals.
To now say that the Ministry of Tourism participated in this process and even supported it is laughable! The Minister of Tourism, Hamat Bah, just a few days ago was on national television opposing the deal. And somehow, we should believe Securiport for what they said about Hamat Bah and not what Hamat told about himself.
If this is not paid PR content, then where did primary verification in journalism go?
“An investigation was made to understand from an independent view what process was followed.
Securiport holds firmly on their values and has clarified that they are not a backdoor dealing Company; they have a reputable global presence and have no issue with ongoing enquiries by the public and the State ”. Is this referring to an internal investigation by Securiport, or what?
It’s evident Securiport knew its contract had the OP's blessing, and all such agreements—like the Banjul Project— will never be investigated. Not by Gambian authorities. The letter from the OP to the so-called task force is clear: improve the contract and see if you can put the charges in the ticket. Nobody in the Gambia is investigating Securiport.
The Securiport CEO added: “It is the responsibility of the government to decide on using the appropriate procurement procedure”, referencing the Gambian Public Procurement Act 214 Part VII- Methods of Procurement and their Conditions of Use- Section 39, which cites “the requirement is of a specialised nature or has requirements of public safety or public security which make an open tender method inappropriate.”
So, the Securiport contract was for public security? The Gambia is the safest country in this region, yet it was only in 2018 that we had a grave security concern that the Securiport should protect us from uncertain threats.
What is the nature of this security risk? And how exactly is the Securiport preventing us from this security risk?
And what is this “advanced, proprietary software and hardware” that the secure port provides to manage Gambia’s borders? Redmine? In what was supposed to be a story, even the “reporter’s words” are opinionated, speaking for the Securiport.
The reporter stated: “Over the past week, there has been SIGNIFICANT MISINFORMATION about Securiport and The Gambia Government’s procurement process, which prompted the company to order a further probe into the company.” This was not in any quote.
“An insider at the GCAA who was part of the whole process of awarding the contract said the government felt the need to engage Securiport for surveillance purposes at the airport because the system can detect paedophiles and criminals that fly within countries and a lot of other components that the system has that help the country at the time.” These were not presented in the story as part of a quote. It is presented as written by a reporter. Really? A system designed to detect paedophiles?
That does not exist! And if they have it, how many paedophiles have they seen in the Gambia since 2019? And they are even quoting an anonymous source for a promotional article that government wants to be told. Is this a joke? How could an official of the GCCA speaking in defence of their project not be identified?
By all standards, this is a ridiculous PR that will not pass the filter of journalism students in their first three months at college! This is not a story. It is deliberate PR work that should have been marked as such. Or it is pure deception!
If you are still reading this, you must have found it interesting, and please visit the Facebook Page “Open Gambia” Gambian Platform for National Dialogue. Like, follow and share our stories.
Article contributed by Sulayman Ben Suwareh.
|Posted - 26 Sep 2022 : 12:25:42
Securiport CEO speaks
The Standard: SEPTEMBER 26, 2022
The Securiport founder and CEO, Dr. Enrique Segura, has defended his company’s twenty-year experience in designing and implementing civil aviation security, border management, immigration control, and threat assessment for governments in different regions around the world.
In a write-up shared with The Standard, Dr Segura said the company uses cutting-edge biometric technology and Intelligent Threat Analysis to identify potential risks and threats. He said the company extended its global formula in The Gambia to support immigration authorities’ efforts with inbound as well as outbound travelers’ safety and airport security.
“Securiport is widely known for its cutting-edge border management technologies, serving governments around the world in preventing criminals from crossing borders undetected and in uncovering unlawful transnational activities,” Dr Segura added.
The Gambia Government, he added, in meeting the international aviation and border management standards, sought out such services, while keeping in mind the level of tourists that visit The Gambia, and the need to further protect visitors and citizens against international criminals, terrorist etc.
“Securiport first presented its proposal to The Gambia Government in 2016 under legal terms and went into the process through a Technical Working Team composed of government stakeholders who studied, recommended and negotiated the contract with Securiport LLC. The contract with the government ensures that the government is the sole entity owning, maintaining, or sharing traveler data,” he added.
He said all data and servers are exclusively and solely hosted by The Gambia Immigration Department.
“The government has from the beginning of Securiport’s contract maintained absolute and complete control over all information generated over the course of the company’s services to date. Each stakeholder had a role to play, as the Ministry of Justice advised on the process through completion, the Ministry of Tourism contributed throughout the process and was responsible for informing the public and stakeholders including the airlines about the importance and needs of the project.”
Over the past week, there has been significant misinformation about Securiport and The Gambia Government’s procurement process, which prompted the company to order further probe into the company.
“An investigation was made to understand from an independent view what process was actually followed. Securiport holds firmly on their values and has clarified that they are not a backdoor dealing Company; they have a reputable global presence and have no issue with ongoing enquiries by the public and the State ”.
The Securiport CEO added: “It is the responsibility of the government to decide on using the appropriate procurement procedure” referencing the Gambian Public Procurement Act 214 Part VII- Methods of Procurement and their Conditions of Use- Section 39, which cites “the requirement is of a specialized nature or has requirements of public safety or public security which make an open tender method inappropriate.”
Dr. Segura further noted that: “Therefore it is not the responsibility of Securiport to determine for the government the method of procurement. Documents available to Securiport evidently establish the fact that all stakeholders of the Government of the Gambia fully participated in the procurement process, including in the due diligence study tour”.
“They believe they have been put through the Gambian procurement process for such security services implemented at the Banjul International Airport. In fact, an implementation of this magnitude required the support of the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Tourism and Culture, and other relevant government agencies, which even formed in 2018 a task force to conduct a study tour about such services.
“The evidence is clear on this. The same task force studied the operations and application of the civil aviation and immigration security systems (CAISS) services. Securiport’s services and the security charge is not an unknown fact. Airport security cost is normally economically dependent on passenger density, meaning that countries or regions that generate significantly higher air traffic (more travelers) are more prone to seeing lower security levy charges than countries, such as The Gambia, where passenger density is smaller. With the fees often negotiated with governments to either be included in airline ticket prices or incurred at port of entry and exit of the country, civil aviation services and airport (security, passenger and other) related fees are familiar to governments around the globe.
“Today, Securiport’s legal and moral integrity is in question regarding its contract with the government, irrespective of the lack of evidence of any malpractice. It can be pointed out that the public and stakeholders were not widely sensitized about the rationale and cost prior to operations. Clearly, the government has undergone through the adequate process leading to the final procurement of Securiport services, not fully explained perhaps due to security reasons,” he added.
He further stated: “The question remains: Is this a cost issue, or a process issue? Either way, Securiport maintains today a long-standing history of fully abiding by the laws and rules of countries in which it operates. Business to government relations is never an easy one, but Securiport “provides the government with advanced, proprietary software and hardware to manage their borders.”
“These systems give the government the capability to use multimodal biometrics and travel documents to identify and process travelers through immigration, and to enable advanced analytics to assess travelers for risks such as identity fraud, human trafficking, drug trafficking, terrorism, and other criminal activities. It is important to know that the government operates and controls the technology and all the data to ensure security,” states Dr. Segura.
An insider at the GCAA who was part of the whole process of awarding the contract said the government felt the need to engage Securiport for surveillance purpose at the airport because the system can detect paedophiles and criminals that fly within countries and lot of other components that the system has that help the country at the time.
“A stakeholder conference was conducted at Immigration Department attended by GIEPA, Ministry of Justice and Civil Aviation to discuss the process of giving the contract. We had three months of discussion on this issue to look at the modalities of the contract. We also went to Sierra Leone on a study tour and met their ministry of interior and intelligence officers to discuss the importance of Securiport so when we returned the committee sat and agreed for the government to go in for the system,” the source said. He said apart from the monetary aspect of the contract, the Securiport gives the country the opportunity to have its first biometric system at the airport. “Before it would take our immigration months to look for information of a particular passenger but now it takes them just one day,” he said.
Also, speaking to the investigation team, an immigration insider at the airport said: “The data collected from travellers is entirely handled by the Gambia Immigration. The Securiport has nothing to do with the data – they are only there to give technical support but they have nothing to do with the data. So, nobody can collect the data without the immigration knowing it.”
|Posted - 23 Sep 2022 : 21:58:43
Securiport asks gov’t to investigate Malagen sources
The Standard: SEPTEMBER 23, 2022
The Standard has laid hands on a letter written by legal representatives of Securiport asking the Secretary General to investigate the many government official sources that may have given information to Malagen in their investigative report on the controversial airport security fee.
The letter, which was written by Gomez Law Chambers, said the actions of the government officials have had a serious implication on the reputation of Securiport which was lawfully and transparently executing the agreement between it and government.
The letter continues: “Given my Client’s concerns about the recent actions from the media, it is important to express their objections on the treatment and damaging actions undertaken by government representatives.
The National Auditing Office (NAO), The Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Justice, and previous DG of the GCAA, Mr. Abdoulle Jammeh have all been involved in the process of this agreement, and hereunder our concerns:
1. Minister of Tourism
The Honourable Hamat Bah, the current Minister of Tourism, uttered on national television damaging remarks about the “security fee” and “Securiport airport services” and has now created an impasse at BIA where passengers are refusing / objecting to pay the security fee as quoted. The Minister of Tourism himself does not approve of this fee*. Securiport has operated according to the agreement with the Government of the Gambia that was executed lawfully and in full transparency. As a company, the Client partnership with the government has been based on the understanding that the Government responsibility was to inform traveler’s departing and arriving from the Gambia about the security fee benefits. The Public Private Partnership between my Client and the Government of Gambia aimed to ease the capital intense obligations of making the Banjul International Airport efficient and secure. The Minister of Tourism who was in agreement with the Agreement, has now cast my Client in negative light in the public domain to the extent of criticizing the security fee decision that has been implemented through due process.
During the same interview, the words of the honorable Minister of Tourism has created business and reputational harm by additionally stating false and baseless claims that the Sierra Leone government, a Securiport client, has cancelled their contract. Such unfounded and untrue comments have serious business implications especially when it implicates a third-party country where the contract is effective and successfully implemented.
My Client is appealing to your honorable office to find a resolution regarding the incorrect utterances of the Minister of Tourism broadcasted on National television, which have now become part of a libelous media report.
2. National Auditing Office
From the outset, it was apparent that the journalist from Malagen Media had a source at the National Auditing Office providing the journalist confidential information related to the agreement between my Client and the Government. The journalist contacted my Client with questions that were not public including the audit conducted by the NAO and referencing terms of the contract, which can only be available to those who have a copy of the contract. The journalist “investigative Report” negatively positioned my Client. The accusations made in this journalist report, now circulating online, and in the overall local media are untrue, unfounded, and libelous.
My Client appeals to your honorable office to investigate further in this case to identify the NAO source who provided the journalist this information to be used against my Client and certain Government officials of the Gambia including the President’s Office. Such actions undermine the Government and the validity of our lawful agreement as it also compromises the National Security of the Gambia. The journalist’s source who apparently works at the NAO has collaborated against my Client to tarnish its reputation. If such incorrect and detrimental information is not publicly corrected immediately, it is going to cause reputational damages to Securiport’s image.
3. Previous DGGCAA – Mr. Abdoulle Jammeh
It is regrettable that Mr. Jammen who never objected to the awarding of the contract and played an integral role in the set-up of the collection services at the Banjul International Airport, has now backtracked his support for my Client in the falsified investigative Report. When such recognized Senior ex-Civil Servant voices incorrect and unfounded facts on a Media platform, it has grave consequences for my Client that has invested in the infrastructure, technology and job creation in the Gambia and to the Government that has been building up the airport to meet International Standards.
My Client appeals to your honorable office to discuss further the false statements made by Mr. Jammeh who should be held liable and accountable for the accusatory and misleading public statements especially when serving as a member of the government.
4. Senior Member of Ministry of Justice (Mol)
It is regrettable that an esteemed ministry such as the Ministry of Justice has been brought into the fray by comments / interviews given by “unnamed” Senior Officers of the Ministry. Albeit there are no mentions of names, my Client is concerned about the collusion of unknown sources from various ministries, Including the Mol, that have commented against the “security fee” and transparently awarded contract.
The inaccurate and erroneous comments by officers of Government have consequently placed my Client under scrutiny. My Client appeals to your honorable office to remedy the situation with Senior members of the Mol.
With this letter, my Client respectfully requests your honorable office to open an internal investigation to determine the sources who have provided the journalist a series of false claims, unsubstantiated assertions, and incorrect statements. My Client calls for your intervention with the Minister of Tourism, previous DGGCAA and State employees that have participated in this maligned, malicious, and libelous article published by Malagen Media, Standard Newspaper, Fatou Network, Whats on Gambia, to name a few. The reputational damage caused to my Client will have major impact on its business and global operations.
My Client is a respected company based in the United States of America that has always complied with US laws and regulations required of US companies doing business in foreign countries.
Securiport assures your esteemed office of its commitment to serving the people of The Gambia by continuing its customized civil aviation and immigrations security services to support the Government of the Gambia efforts to keep passengers safe and airport secure.”
The Standard contacted Lawyer Edu Gomez of the Gomez Law Chambers on the authenticity of the letter but he said: ”Are you sure you have seen this letter or you are just speculating? You seem not to have your facts right. What is on the letterhead? As a journalist you should get your facts right.”
The Standard told him that we have seen the letter, but Mr Gomez maintained that since our reporter could not tell him what was on the letterhead, he could only be speculating.
Asked if he has seen the letter, Malagen reporter who investigated the contract Mustapha K Darboe, said: “I have read the letter that the Securiport wrote to the SG but there is nothing in its content to respond to. It merely says the report is ‘untrue’, ‘unfounded’ and ‘libelous’.
It did not pick on any specific issue in the report. No one can fact-check such a generalized statement that does not address issues in specific detail. If they had been specific on what is wrong in the story, then we could reply to that.
With regard to the request that they have made to the SG to investigate me andidentify my source at the National Audit Office, the SG should have simply informed them President Adama Barrow has just signed into law the Access to Information Act which basically requires the government to do pro-active disclosure of information. In a normal situation, if the contract is as transparent as they claim in that letter, they would not have been worried that I have a copy. There is nothing that threatens national security in that contract if made public. Why do they want to keep it asecret?”
|Posted - 23 Sep 2022 : 13:03:35
Securiport asks government to open internal investigation to determine sources who gave information to a journalist in the airport security fee article
|Posted - 22 Sep 2022 : 17:02:53
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR. on September 21, 2022
Beyond the extra 20 dollar charge at the airport, I am just as concerned with the information Securiport collects on those of us who are processed by their systems. I refuse to believe their claims that they are a completely independent company or that they have no affiliation with any government whatsoever! You cannot have a security company operating internationally and claim you have no affiliation with any government. I must admit though that their claim of independence along with the claim that no government budget is required are excellent selling points that entrap Africans into signing without bothering with much due diligence!
If you pay attention, fighting terrorism is still big business even if who is a terrorist depends on who controls the narrative. And if you rely on Securiport’s websites, you may be led to believe that the company is saving us from big bad terrorists and transnational criminals. And while that may be true to an extent, their business practices in Africa belies the almost Samaritan posture they project on their websites.
You see Gambians are not the only ones paying extra unnecessary fees at their airport. Last I read, Sierra Leoneans are too. As with many major contractors operating in Africa, particularly in The Gambia, these contracts often emanate deep from the cesspools of the presidents’ office. And since those in that office are sometimes more concerned with kickbacks or perks they receive, they rarely bother to read the fine lines of any contract.
Take the case of Sierra Leone where in 2012, the government signed a contract with Securiport in the hope that they will be able to tag on Securiport’s operational costs on inbound and outbound air ticket fees. When the airlines rejected this proposal, Securiport claimed Sierra Leone owed it 19.8 million dollars because Sierra Leone could not collect the fees from the airlines. They played the same game on Gambians in 2018 that they played on on Sierra Leone back in 2012. And you don’t think Securiport knew that Gambia wouldn’t be able to tag these fees on inbound and outbound ticket fees when we signed a contract with them? Remember this was long after Sierra Leone had the same exact challenge!
In Sierra Leone, Securiport eventually agreed to a discounted 12 million dollar payment which was amortized until 2019. The poor people of Sierra Leone are the ones paying for the terrible decisions negotiated and signed from the office of the president. You would think Gambian officials would have asked Sierra Leone about their experience before committing poor Gambians to Securiport’s contract. We were lucky in that they only told us we owed them 4.5 million dollars due to our inability to tag the fees on tickets. African governments hardly bother with any due diligence on contracts and obligations they sign. More so when the contract provides some opportunity for travel and per diem collection.
Let’s also consider the case of Benin where the administration of Boni Yayi signed a contract with Securiport to provide security services at their airport. The Patrice Talon administration cancelled the contract and gave it to another company because they believe the contract was not awarded according to law. Sounds familiar? Securiport fought the cancellation of the contract and secured a 95-million-dollar award against poor Benin. Benin tried to fight the case but in the end, a contract signed is a contract signed especially if it was signed from the president’s office.
There is a saying that “data is the new oil of the 21st century.” And we all know that the discovery of oil changed the fate of some nations for good and others for worse. Someone should tell Gambians that their data, in the hands of anyone, friend or enemy, can decide their fate for good or for worse. When data is refined, it becomes information. And information is powerful; so powerful that it is identified as of one of the principles of power. Whoever controls your information controls you! That is why some countries insist on digital sovereignty through data localization. It’s a national security issue! Yet, we Gambians have zero idea what Securiport does with our information!
Information collected on us includes demographic and biometric information. We innocently submit our fingerprints and have our pictures taken when asked to do so. We have no idea where our information is kept or what it is used for. We surrender ourselves to the security systems because they tell us they are keeping us safe. The scary part is, one does not need to keep information to access it. Ours is a country where the last time I checked, there’s no comprehensive data protection law. But I guess we can continue to put our faith in Securiport’s stated model of “build, maintain and transfer.” I don’t know why that strategy reminds me of the military strategy of “clear, hold and build.”
|Posted - 19 Sep 2022 : 15:54:04
SNIPPET FROM THE ARTICLE BELOW:
" Why? Public service is for the public, it is not for few people to enjoy and the rest suffer. So, I wouldn’t pay and enrich people when my country is losing money and people are poor. It is not about the money; I can easily pay it. It is not fair for me in terms of principles, to pay it for exploitation. This is merely exploiting people and it is the government officials or agencies that are helping these people [Securiport] to do this.”
UTG LECTURER’S PASSPORT SEIZED AT AIRPORT AFTER REFUSING TO PAY SECURIPORT FEES
September 19, 2022
By Tabora Bojang on September 19, 2022
A University of The Gambia senior lecturer who refused to pay a compulsory security levy at the Banjul airport leading to the seizure of his passport, told The Standard that he declined to pay the U$20 because he considered it an exploitation of citizens by the government.
Sait Matty Jaw’s passport was confiscated by immigration officers at the Banjul airport after he returned from Ghana on Saturday and refused to pay the levy collected by Securiport company.
Jaw who is the co-founder and executive director of the Centre for Research and Policy Development, CepRas, said his refusal to pay the compulsory fee came after reading Malagen’s latest exposé detailiing malpractices in the contract awarded to the US based company by the Barrow government in 2018.
The report revealed that the introduction of the US$20 security levy has caused a possible financial loss of at least D274 million to the state.
Explaining his encounter at the airport, Mr Jaw said: “I was in Ghana when the Malagen report was published. After reading it and looking at the alleged losses of millions of dalasis to the country, I decided I am not going to pay [the security levy] and I tweeted it the day before I flew to Banjul from Ghana. So, when I got to the airport, I followed the procedure and I was on the queue until it was my turn to go and pay, I decided not to go there and pay [the security levy]. Instead, I moved to where the Immigration line was and I stood there and I told them clearly that I was not going to pay. The first supervisor from Securiport came and asked me to pay and I insisted that I was not going to pay. Then a second supervisor came and asked why I was not going to pay. I asked him why should I pay and then I later moved to the immigration area. When I arrived, they [immigration officers] did their normal processing in a very nice manner and they took my passport and declared it not paid. So, they took [the passport] and I left the airport.”
Sait, a frequent flyer through the Banjul airport, said he has been looking for answers “for this very question of why people are paying” and that the Malagen report crystallised the answer for him.
He said he is weighing his options including resorting to legal means to reclaim his passport from the authorities.
“Let them keep the passport. I am in my country and I am free. I will look at other options and I will follow due process to ensure I get my documents back. But why must we pay for leaving or coming to our country? This is creating a lot of impact on our tourism industry. Everybody is complaining and the government does not want to listen. Why? Public service is for the public, it is not for few people to enjoy and the rest suffer. So, I wouldn’t pay and enrich people when my country is losing money and people are poor. It is not about the money; I can easily pay it. It is not fair for me in terms of principles, to pay it for exploitation. This is merely exploiting people and it is the government officials or agencies that are helping these people [Securiport] to do this.”
No one was available at Securiport offices in Bijilo for immediate comment on the matter by the time we went to press last night
|Posted - 17 Sep 2022 : 17:51:06
SNIPPET FROM THIS RELATED TOPIC:
"In the not-too-distant future, members of the National Assembly will investigate the motive and purpose behind the introduction of the highly controversial and much-criticised airport security levy system as well as make a decision on what should be done about the issue, the NAM for Latrikunda Sabiji, Yaya Sanyang told The Standard."
|Posted - 16 Sep 2022 : 21:03:21
INVESTIGATIONS THE BIG STORY
Inside the Securiprofit deal
Malagen: SEPTEMBER 16, 2022
By Mustapha K Darboe
In this investigation Malagen reveals how the introduction of $20 security levy at the airport has caused possible financial loss of at least D274m to the state. And the party has just started. It has just been three years, 11 more years to go.
The contract granted to Securiport, a US-based company to provide aviation and immigration security was negotiated from the Office of the President. Despite public outcry, objection from travel and tourism industry, and strong opposition from even within the government, the Securiprofit deal was signed and implemented in apparent violation of laws on tax, procurement and public finance.
Click https://malagen.shorthandstories.com/inside-the-securiprofit-deal/index.html to read the Story
This story is part of election reporting investigative story series funded by the National Endowment for Democracy
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