By Makutu Manneh
After visiting many fish landing and selling points, this reporter visited Banjul and spoke to fish mongers who explained the difficulties they faced in the fish trade.
Awa Ngaye, a female fish monger said she sells all kinds of fish; that she normally buys fish from the fishermen in Banjul or Tanji and resells at the Banjul market; that she buys a basket for D7, 000 during the period of scarcity or D5, 000 when fish is available in abundance. Awa said fish has never been this expensive in the country; that when they buy fish at such prices, it is always difficult for them to resell and gain profit out of their investments. “We cannot sell a fish basket in one day. So we have to buy ice blocks to freeze them for the next day, which is very difficult,’’ she said. She pointed out that in some circumstances, they contribute to buy a basket to sell and share the meagre profit amongst themselves just to survive with their families; that under difficult circumstances, they will take these baskets of fish on loan, and at the end of the day, pay the loan no matter what happens.
Awa said she uses the small profit she gets from her business to take care of her children, and pay for their School fees.
Sainabou Ndure, another female fish monger made similar remarks adding that for her, she goes to the extreme of visiting all fish landing sites to find fish to sell, when there is scarcity. “The situation of fish at the market fluctuates, making the business of fish difficult for us,” she said. Sainabou said some of their valuable costumers sometimes leave them at the Banjul market and buy fish at Serrekunda; that this is also an impediment to their business; that couple with these difficulties, they pay taxes and market duty daily.
“Sometimes you will have nothing to sell but Council’s market officers will demand for duties to be paid,” she said.
Most citizens (consumers, fish mongers and fishermen), complain of lack of fish in the Gambia currently. Consumers blame fish mongers; fish mongers in turn blame the fishermen, and fishermen in turn blame the fisheries Ministry for the trawlers in Gambian waters, for the scarcity of fish.