Gambia, Venezuela to start air services- As lawmakers ratify Agreement
The Republics of The Gambia and Venezuela are expected to start scheduled air services from Caracas to Banjul, following the ratification on Wednesday of the Air Services Agreement during the third sitting of The Gambia’s National Assembly in the 2014 Legislative Year.
The two countries have over the years enjoyed mutual bilateral ties and this Agreement is aimed, among other things, to promote air travel between West African sub-region and Latin America and beyond. In that light, it is expected to contribute to the liberalisation of the African air transport market.
The Agreement will allow the two countries to establish and operate scheduled air services in each other’s territory, reaffirmed the minister of Transport, Works, Infrastructure and National Assembly Matters, Balla Garba Jahumpa, who tabled the motion for deputies’ approval.
“In order to make the Agreement workable in both theory and practice, provisions are created for the granting of rights to each of the countries or contracting parties to establish and operate scheduled international air services through designated airlines that enjoy the right to fly and also make stops in each other’s territory for the purpose of putting down and taking on international traffic in passengers, cargo and mail,” he told lawmakers.
The minister informed lawmakers that the Agreement also ensures aviation safety and security and that as such, it allows for improved air transport, which in turn will boost socio-economic development of the two countries.
Minister Jahumpa, who pursued the Agreement process with the late President Hugo Charvez while serving as The Gambia’s ambassador to Caracas, explained that the air service market has huge economic potential, given the large volumes of passengers that are generated annually.
“However, it is constrained and full of complexities. Direct flight connections between one destination and another in the continent often poses a challenge and it is not unusual for passengers to experience prolonged delays at airports because flights have been cancelled or are not available. In most cases, the passenger has to fly to distant intermediate point in order to get to his final destination,” he observed.
Thus, he pointed out that the Agreement also seeks to address those problems through improved services and through increased flight connections from one destination to another in the continent. The minister underscored that not only will the Agreement give rise to employment opportunities in the aviation industry, but will also boost productivity in tourism and related activities.
“Consequently, the objectives of the Agreement are consistent with those of the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE), Vision 2016 and Vision 2020 respectively,” he concluded.
Seconding the motion, the National Assembly member for Serrekunda West, Hon. Sulayman Joof, described the Agreement as timely and apt, noting that it will bring many benefits to both parties.
Urging his colleagues to ratify the Agreement, Hon. Joof said it will greatly help in addressing the problems faced in the air services. He thanked the government through Minister Balla Garba Jahumpa for tabling such an important Agreement for ratification.
Honourable Habibulai K. Jawo of Jimara said the Agreement bolster ties between Caracas and Banjul.
Hon. Babucarr S. Nyang of Banjul South, said with this Agreement, Gambians will now have access to the Latin Americas and Caribbeans without the burden of going through Europe.