Advises against using Banjul/Barra ferry as well
By Sanna Camara
The government of the United Kingdom has advised its citizens to be aware of a rise in anti-UK sentiment in The Gambia, asking them to stay clear of “politically sensitive topics” while in the country.
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued this advice following The Gambia’s recent decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth, which it said, is resulting in “an increasing amount of anti-UK rhetoric from the Gambian President shown on TV and reported in the newspapers.”
“This may increase anti-UK sentiment among parts of the wider population. You should avoid discussing politically sensitive topics. Some foreign nationals have been detained by the police in relation to homosexuality and there has been an increase in inflammatory homophobic rhetoric across the country.
‘Make sure next of kin have details of your itinerary’
“Most visits to The Gambia are trouble-free although independent travellers are at increased risk due to the lack of local support in an emergency. If you’re travelling independently, make sure next of kin in the UK have details of your itinerary and keep in regular touch,” it stated.
The FCO advices against using the ferry between Banjul and Barra: “The ferry has a poor safety record. On 2 February 2014 there was a serious accident involving one of the ferries, resulting in the death of a European tourist and several injuries. If you do decide to use the ferry exit your vehicle quickly after parking to avoid becoming trapped inside for the duration of the journey and don’t use the ferry after dark.”
Canoes sink but no threat of terrorism
It also advise against using a pirogue (wooden dug-out), commonly called canoe as an alternative to the ferry, to cross the River Gambia. “They are often overloaded and sometimes sink during the crossing. It’s unlikely they will have life jackets,” the advice said.
“There is a low threat from terrorism, but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could occur in public areas, including those visited by foreigners,” it added.