When the people voted for new Gambia on 1 December 2016 they had high expectations that their lives were going to change. They tasted freedom and were able to express themselves freely after many years of oppression. But the people expected more, particularly the youth who had suffered a lot and continue to suffer. Some youths were heard saying, “change has come, no more back way.”
But what had happened at Palma Rima cannot encourage the youth. It is therefore not strange to hear them utter words like ‘they are here to destroy our wealth,’ ‘now that we have created jobs for ourselves they have been taken away from us,’ ‘now that they have destroyed our stalls what do we do?’ ‘new Gambia has disappointed us’.
The authorities under new Gambia are elected/appointed to serve, not to harm those who are struggling to make ends meet, especially if they have been paying taxes. Destroying stalls of petty traders who are trying to make ends meet is not a solution to unemployment and other economic woes of the country. Dialogue and looking for a means to improve their livelihood is the way out.
The authorities need to listen to the people and understand their plight and find solutions, not increase their suffering. This is the way to serve under the new Gambia.
Needless to say, the informal economy plays a vital role in the economy and destroying stalls of petty traders cannot help the economy to grow.