By Amara Thoronka
The Governments of Sierra Leone and The Gambia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the reciprocal waiver of residence permit fee for citizens of both countries.
In a video address over the weekend, First Lady of Sierra Leone Madam Fatima Bio said she was pleased to announce that the challenges of Sierra Leoneans in securing residence permit in The Gambia are over.
“Sierra Leoneans living in The Gambia have been complaining for far too long about the fee and processes in having a residence permit in The Gambia. My husband President Julius Maada Bio has had several engagements with his brother, President Adama Barrow of The Gambia on the said issue; and after several engagements, the brothers [Presidents] have finally agreed to waive residence permits,” Madam Bio explains.
First Lady Fatima Bio emphasized that the MOU now allows for Sierra Leoneans to live in The Gambia and for Gambians to live in Sierra Leone freely without residence permits. Adding that other African countries should emulate Sierra Leone and The Gambia.
“We are all Africans and we don’t need to travel to one another’s country and be greeted by very difficult protocols and taxes,” she said.
First Lady Fatima Bio thanked both Presidents for doing what she called “necessarily needful” in promoting and strengthening the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
Sierra Leoneans living in The Gambia and Gambians living in Sierra Leone have taken to social media and some conventional media to express their appreciation on what many called “foreign burden alleviation.”
Sierra Leone’s First Lady, Madam Fatima Bio, is said to have played a pivotal role in realizing such agreement as she is a citizen of both countries, a Sierra Leonean by birth and a Gambian by descent.