By Kebba Secka
One of the most consumed food items in the Gambia, bread, was in short supply in the Greater Banjul Area yesterday. This reporter who went out and about within the Kanifing Municipality and other areas of Greater Banjul, was told that bakers were on a sit down strike and decided not make bread until their concerns are considered by Government.
This reporter spoke to some of the bakers who said the main reason for their sit down strike is the recent increment in the price of flour; that during the holy month of Ramadan, Government announced the reduction of flour and urged bakers to sell bread at D6 instead of D7. They say that though the reduction at the time was not favourable, they complied with Government’s decision but that recently the price of flour has increased and Government has not taken into consideration recent price increases. They say that they can no longer continue with this regulation.
Asked whether they have been engaging the government on their demands, bakers said government is fully aware of their concerns but turn a deaf ear to them. They said they had consultation with government officials so that the price of flour and bread will be affordable to all. They said they rarely go on strike because going on strike entails a lot of losses in their income while the consumer’s right to food should be respected. They said they can only meet the satisfaction of the people provided that they will be able to take home something as profit.
Muhammed and Sheikh Kalif, both importers, said the price of flour has increased throughout the country prices because of the high price in the world market. ”The way we acquire our commodities determine our price,” they asserted.
Vendors who mostly sell bread and sauce for breakfast said the strike of the bakers has negatively impacted on them. According to Nyima Jawara and Fatou Faye, they had no knowledge of the bakers’ decision to go on strike prior to the making of their sauce. Thus they were unable to sell the sauce they had already cooked. They appealed to the strikers and government to sit down and come to terms so that this scarcity of bread doesn’t last long. ”We as breakfast sellers cannot sell breakfast if bakers of bread refuse to bake. We rely on them, therefore if their reason is only about pricing, then let government quickly do something,” she advised.
Pedestrians in the streets of Serrekunda also gave their take on the shortage of bread, urging bakers to consider that their individual interest should not override the public interest. Some of them said they took biscuits for breakfast while others said they took fish pie and this can be avoided.