Drivers Protest Government Decision on Passenger Reduction and Attempt to Reduce Fare Tariff

EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: As a preventive measure to avoid the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the country, President Adama Barrow on March 17 announced a seven-day state of public emergency with some conditions, including scaling down of government operations and public transports to reduce the number of passengers they carry to half.

The government later proposed to extend the public emergency period to 90 days but the National Assembly on Friday reduced that to forty-five days; a situation that is now causing problem in the public transportation as drivers have begun to strike against the move, saying it is causing them more harm than good.

They have now decided to increase the normal transport fare tariffs, justifying that they cannot reduce the number of passengers they carry and the transport fare while the fuel pump price remains the same, which until last week, only one dalasi and five bututs was reduced.

This has forced some drivers on the Brikama- West Field road to take a sit-down strike on Monday 6 as a measure to vent their anger. But they decided to go back on the roads the following day, maintaining the old transport fare tariff.

President of Gambia Transport Union, Omar Ceesay told Eye Africa’s Good Morning Africa show on Tuesday that he is disappointed with the president and his government, particularly the minister of transport for taking the decision to reduce fuel prices which is not even under his mandate.

He said he has been going to the ministry to discuss with them on the current situation but there has not been any positive response.

Mr Ceesay also reminded the government that the welfare and concerns of the people is its responsibility and not to make them suffer.

He argued that there is discrimination in the system because ferries are still carrying the same number of passengers as before and they will wait for three hours or more before moving with no social distancing observed in the waiting room, while commercial transport drivers are being conditioned.

Vice president of West Coast Region transport committee, Bubacarr Sowe said the transport minister should resign from his position because he is incompetent to hold that post.

He said the police force is not also helping to solve the situation, but instead they are happy about it.

According to him, a minister that does not understand his responsibility cannot be called a minister, saying since his appointment in that position three years and some months now, he has never set his eyes on him and each time they attempt to meet him, they will spend hours waiting only to be asked to go until another time.

Written by Isatou Tamba

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