TAT Commentary by Alf Soninke
To TAT readers who digest this opinion piece, please bear with me for the long absence of sharing my thoughts and views on pertinent issues.
Usually, I avoid commenting on many topics simply because I cannot access the information to instantly and contemporaneously share my views and make meaningful and intelligent comments or contributions to trending matters.
And since I do not want to appear uninformed and misleading, I have advised myself to be restraining myself.
However, I just thought I could attend to the fact that the announced sit-down strike of members on Monday by the Gambia Transport Union (GTU) will certainly hurt the poor and struggling masses.
Definitely, it will happen at a time when everyone is struggling to survive and, therefore, cannot be in the best interest of transport owners and drivers.
Recently, I watched Senegalese tv and listened to the Senegalese transport/drivers union leader, Gora Houma.
He was the guest on a talk show, and I heard him advise the drivers and commercial transport/taxi owners to always empathize with the commuters/ traveling public; that is, the people who do not own private cars and rely on public transport to move about and around.
He reminded them that public transport users are the primary and loyal clients/customers of drivers with whom they have a symbiotic relationship.
According to Houma, those who use taxis and come to the public car parks to patronize them – since the owner of a private car does not need to and is not compelled to use the services of taxi drivers, must be embraced.
Houma pointed out and reminded the transport owners that the taxi users are their loyal friends/customers whom they could count on to stay in business and survive.
Thus they must keep them happy and show them good respect to keep them streaming to the public car parks.
Under no circumstances, he went on must they antagonize the traveling public – on whose patronage their business thrives and depends for survival.
Now it is the same reminder that I hope the owners of public transport and taxis will be given by all stakeholders in the sub-sector.
The Gambia Transport Services Company, GTSC, is now expected to rise to the occasion and come to the rescue with their new buses and minivans.
Indeed, this is when and where such a public service comes into action to show that the state will not allow the public to be held to ransom.
And, related to this scenario of the public being put under duress is the possibility that the GTU – as regards its claim that the tariff/toll charges at the new Senegambia Bridge are high – may be at the service of the Senegalese and doing the bidding of Gora Houma and co.
Now, do not dismiss this thought as far-fetched.
We recall how in the past, the Senegalese complained incessantly about the tariff for the Banjul-Barra and Trans-Gambia ferry crossings and how this created unnecessary tension (bad blood?), including economic warfare between the two states.
Thus we dare to ask: Is the GTU a Senegalese fifth column in the Gambia?
From what we heard in the past, this question may be valid, that is, if one goes by stories about the background of the GTU leaders. It’s all about accountability!