By: Foday Manneh
Commuters in The Gambia and public transport users are generally anticipating tough times ahead after the government set new fuel prices for September as follows: Petrol D78.89, Gasoil D75.00, and Kerosene D77.61.
It came as the government announced that filling stations would resume selling fuel across the country after reaching an agreement with the oil marketing companies, which ceased to supply power to their customers and shut down filling stations in the country.
Only outlets operated by the publicly-owned Gambia National Petroleum Company (GNPC) were selling fuel on Friday.
Meanwhile, queues of cars were seen at GNPC stations in the Greater Banjul area, and commuters and taxi drivers were heard complaining about the disruption caused to public transport services due to the non-selling of fuel.
Ablie Bah, a driver at Tippa Garage, said the lack of fuel “is affecting our work and livelihood”, adding that “the government needs to always have an understanding with the suppliers.”
He said users of taxis and other commercial transport would complain if there is a fuel price increase which also compels commercial drivers to increase transport fares. As a result, some drivers may decide not to work, whilst a few may decide to raise fares on their own, he pointed out.
Ousman Jobe, another taxi driver, said, “D75 for Gasoil is very expensive”, and the government must help the population. “It is affecting the customers because drivers too could do a sit-down strike if things continue like this.”
Fatou Njie, a native of Manjai, said she was forced to walk home on Friday evening after she could not pay the D100 being charged by a taxi driver.
“I walked from Tippa Garage to Manjai last night, which was very risky as I could be harmed (by armed robbers)simply because I could not get transport.
One driver asked for D100 to go to Manjai, which was outrageous as no one would pay that fare for that short distance. But all goes back to fuel price; I believe it is all because of the fuel price issue, and the government needs to act swiftly.”
However, Baboucarr Cham, a commuter, said he paid D150 as a fare last night from Brikama to Serekunda because of the fuel shortage problem.
After Friday’s day-long shutdown at filling stations, the government, in a press release, said it had provided at least D1.3 million in subsidies to help stabilize the fuel prices. The subsidy for September 2022 is D5.6 million, the release added.