The government Wednesday announced plans to start a campaign next weekend to kill birds near the Banjul International Airport to protect flights from colliding with them.
The announcement came 24 hours after President Adama Barrow instituted an Emergency Strategic Committee during an airport security stakeholders meeting, to clean up dumpsites and landfills within close proximity of the airport amidst growing concern over aviation safety due to bird strike – a collision between birds and aircraft.
The Department of Strategic Policy and Delivery (DSPD) at the Presidency said it has already mobilized 35 trucks and over a hundred personnel from various security services and forces for the war on birds next weekend.
DSPD which comprises of various government and local government institutions said the campaign will involve the killing of birds that pose danger to airplanes, and trimming of trees around the airport premises and cleaning and disposal of wastes from both dumpsites and households around the periphery of the airport.
“The Office of the President is spearheading this campaign, getting all the sectors together on one page so that we can have a robust, emergency and rapid response to this situation,” the Special Adviser on Policy and Governance, Mai Ahmad Fatty told journalists at a press briefing State House Wednesday.
Flight companies operating in The Gambia are said to have raised concerns over frequent bird strike at the airport.
In November 2016, a Thomas Cook plane departing from Banjul was forced to make an emergency landing after it struck a flock of storks. According to officials, the London bound Airbus A321 which was carrying 170 passengers, suffered damage to its engines and landing gear when it collided with the birds shortly after taking off.
“We must begin to be responsible with our environment. We dump everywhere when it is our responsibility to clean our environment. Indiscriminate dumping everywhere else, particularly at the airport, have become an attraction for birds like vultures because we are encroaching on their habitats. Yet, we have only one airport in this country,” Fatty said.
According to him, the manner that people deal with the environment, especially with waste disposal, contributed to the attraction of birds and other ruminants that are currently affecting the smooth running of the airport.
“We cannot afford to play with safety. We have a vital sector that our economy is dependent upon, which is closely correlated with the airport. Hence it is important that we are able to assure continuous safety of aircrafts coming into our country,” said Mr. Fatty.
Alhagie Nyangado, the Director General of DSPD said the president is “seriously committed” to this issue and would like the communities living around the airport to support the process.
“We will collect tonnes of refuse to move them elsewhere on Saturday. We will allocate interim garbage collection sites for communities to bring out wastes collected in their households. This is necessary in order to avoid obstruction to services and inconvenience to the communities,” he explained.