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The Gambia is progressing rapidly – Consul General Bert Plusquin

By Elvis Iruh
Mr. Bert Plusquin
Mr. Bert Plusquin

The Consul General of the Gambia in the Netherlands, Mr. Bert Plusquin recently concluded a one week working visit to the Gambia with a group of Dutch journalists and members of the Stichting Nederland-Gambia foundation. Those who accompanied the Consul General on the trip includes the Chairman of the Netherlands-Gambia foundation, Dr. Teus J. Kamphorst, an airline deputy Director, Mr. Jan Heppener who is in top negotiation to introduce a new Dutch airliner to the Gambia; he is also an aviation expert to advise on aviation matters in the Gambia; a psychologist, Mr. Alexander Achilles, a professional photographer, Mrs. Juul Zilvold; journalists Willem Kool and Bertjan ter Braak from Telegraph newspaper; Pastor Elvis Iruh, publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Voice magazine, an African magazine published in the Netherlands. During the visit; the Netherlands-Gambia foundation made several donations including three brand new lap tops to the ministry of Health in the Gambia.

The gesture is to assist the ministry in its day to day working activities. “The gesture is to complement and improve the quality and efficiency of work and service rendered at the Gambia ministry of Health” says the Consul General.

The foundation also donated two sets of air conditioner splits to the Tourism Police Unit in a continued effort to make the job of that unit more comfortable for the staff. It would be recalled that three vehicles were earlier in the past year donated to the Tourism Police Unit to facilitate their transportation to various points of duty.

At the Ministry of Tourism & Culture, both parties agreed to immediately bring together all the stakeholders in the hospitality sector in an effort to improve on quality of service delivery in their various establishments. Dr. Kamphorst disclosed that on the Dutch part; they were ready with the training materials and would soon commence the training with their Gambian counterparts.

According to the Minister, Mrs. Fatou Mas Jobe-Njie; the hotel school as it is presently constituted is incapable of training top management staff for the hospitality industry therefore her government had received a 2 million euros support from the Spanish government to expand the hotel school facilities. She told the that work had already started on the new look hotel school which on completion would cater for training of professional and higher skill personnel for the hospitality industry in the Gambia.

Some selected hotels visited by the delegation included Coco Ocean Hotel Resort & Spa; Kairaba Beach Hotel, Atlantic Banjul hotel (Laico) among others to access their facilities and to see if they have complied with the standards of the hotel classification. The team was impressed at the high standard of hotel facilities visited.

Mr. Plusquin paid a working courtesy call on Honorable Dr. Mamadou Tangara, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad. The Consul General briefed the minister of progress report on its consulate activities in the Netherlands as well as the activities of the Netherlands-Gambia foundation towards uplifting and development of the Gambia.

According to Minister Tangara, on behalf of the Gambian government and the people of the Gambia; he said, our people are most grateful to the efforts of you, Mr. Plusquin and the foundation in the Netherlands for their contributions. “You are one of our most active Consul General and we see the impact on the lives of our people, we say thank you” says the minister.

He pledged that the government would continue to collaborate with the Dutch people in any way possible for the improvement of mutual relationship. He was handed copies of the Netherlands-Gambia newsletter published quarterly to update members of the activities of the foundation. He also received the Publisher of the Voice magazine in his office and granted him a short interview to be publisher at a later date.

Before rounding up the trip, the Consul General met with top Gambia security operatives to discuss matters of state security as the Gambia expands and expect more tourists visiting the country in the course of the year. Mr. Plusquin warned on the danger of foreigners coming to take advantage of the incentives given by the government to attract tourists to take advantage of the ordinary people or use the country as drug trafficking exit points or for other criminal activities. Both parties agreed to work together more closely in the future to ensure that the Gambia remains the smiling coast of Africa but do not compromise its safety of its citizenry.

The head of Security Operatives, Major General Saikou Seckan disclosed that all the security apparatus on the Gambia is working together to ensure that Gambian is kept safe for every one visiting but he warns any person trying to take advantage of the smiling good people of the Gambia for a ride that they would be shocked at what awaits them. He thanked the Consul General for the offer of assistance particularly in the area of capacity building and provision of more security equipment to the various arms of security service in the country.

Speaking to the, Mr. Plusquin expressed his satisfaction in the progress in the country. “As you can see, the Gambia is peaceful unlike what you probably read in some press in the west; the last elections were free and fair and more transparent than was recorded in the western media”. In fact the secured the full result for the accompanying journalists where the details of the official result were confirmed. President Yahya Jammeh pulled a total of 470,500 representing 72% of the total vote cast; his closest rival, Mr. Darboe secured 114,177 votes representing 17% and Mr. Bah secured 73,060 votes representing 11%. With this result, the speculations that President Jammeh secured 94% of the vote is untrue and a calculated effort to discredit the gains of democracy in the Gambia.

“I see progress in the Gambia every time I return back to the country and these is in various sectors of the economy; the people are living a better quality of life and there is more room for development in the country”, Mr. Plusquin concluded.

The country is safe and attractive for both investors and leisure seekers and we are working together with the appropriate authorities in the Gambia to ensure we keep progressing. If you want more information on business opportunities or you just intend to visit the Gambia on holidays, the Gambia consulate is open for your visit and for more information in Amsterdam.

By Pastor Elvis Iruh
Just back from the Gambia

Mr. Plusquin handing over the lap tops to Gambia Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary

Mr. Plusquin in a discussion with UNWTO Secretary General, Dr. Taleb Rifai

The Consul General with Major General Seckan

Some Nigerian politicians always play politics of doom rather than boom.