By: Foday Manneh
The announced ‘sit-down’ by the union of commercial transport drivers will go ahead Monday.
Over the weekend, the Gambia Transport Union (GTU) issued a press release saying the government failed to adequately address their grievances. Consequently, members will park their vehicles at home in a sit-down strike beginning Monday.
Drivers interviewed by TAT said it will be a nationwide strike on Monday and that their plans remain unchanged.
“The message we received from our leaders regarding the planned sit-down strike on Monday is a genuine cause,” said Modou Njie, a taxi.
He cited the current fuel price at the filling stations as unfavorable, with, for example, 20 liters of fuel now costing around D1500. Njie called on the government to reduce the price of fuel.
Abdul Aziz Touray, another commercial driver, said the government is not alive to their suffering as citizens. “This is where we survive. We have our families. We earn our living from the public car parks, and we are part of the nation,” added Touray, who asked for a dialogue to settle the matter.
Haddija Njie, a fish vendor from Lamin village, said the planned strike would affect her business.
“I believe the strike has started because we have been here at Tippa Garage from 2 pm to 5 pm. we could not get a vehicle to travel to Tanji to collect fish.”
Haddija pleaded: “The drivers need to help us, the women, by calling off the planned strike. If this strike goes on Monday morning, it will affect us badly.”
Basirou Bah, a commuter, said many people depend on commercial transport, and measures must be taken to address the situation; otherwise, it would be detrimental to the country’s economy.
The GTU, in a press release over the weekend, cited the “high price of fuel,” toll fees at the Senegambia Bridge, too many police checkpoints on the highway, and stiff mandatory fines for infractions such as wrong parking, as reasons for the protest action.
The Ministry of Transport responded with a press release spelling out measures to mitigate the impact on the public. It said the Gambia Transport Service Company (GTSC) will deploy buses across the Greater Banjul Area on Monday to transport commuters. It added that the national Transport authorities are open to discussions with the union to resolve the challenges in the sector.
The Gambia Police Force also released a statement asking drivers on strike to park their vehicles in private locations and not obstruct other road users, including drivers who choose to work.
“Anyone found breaching the peace and security or trying to stop commercial drivers from plying the road will be dealt with accordingly,” the police warned.