By Nelson Manneh
Following the press release made by the Minister of Works, Transport and Construction Infrastructure on Friday 11th August 2017, concerning the reduction in transport fares for all categories of transports in the country, drivers across the country tend to hold demonstrations by not providing services to passengers. Some drivers even decided not to work at all whilst some decided to park their cars along the high way and at the garages.
People could be seen trekking long distances because of vehicle scarcity on the highway. Along the highway, taxi drivers seem to cooperate by carrying passengers but some van drivers refused to cooperate.
Speaking to Mr. Alfusainey Jarju a van driver plying the Brikama Westfield highway, the reduction of the fares has met mixed reactions from them, the drivers.
Mr. Jarjue said, the reason why he decided not to work today is because not only the price of fuel was reduced, but that those commodities whose prices were to be reduced by an order of government come months ago, have not been reduced and said the reason government has concentrated on the reduction of fares alone, is questionable.
“I am aware of the reduction of the price of flour but bread still costs the same seven dalasi (D7) it used to be. Also the reduction of the price of fuel was not done today. So why is government implementing it now?” he asked.
Madam Mariama Jatta, a woman in her early seventies, was seen struggling to get a vehicle. Mrs. Jatta since 7am she was struggling to get to Westfield to no avail. She said there was no vehicle in Brikama garage coming direct to Westfield.
“I boarded a vehicle from Brikama to Farato, from Farato to Yundum, from Yundum to Lamin, from Lamin to Tabakoto and from Tabakoto finally to Westfield. This is ten times more than the normal fares,” she lamented.
Madam Jatta said Gambians have high expections that the New Government will improve the living conditions of the citizenry but that with this kind of attitude, it will be very difficult for this to be achieved.
“If the drivers say they are not going to cooperate with government on this new tariff, then that means they will not respect any other thing that comes from them again. I don’t know the strategy that the government will use but they should make sure that it works, otherwise nothing else will.” she said.
Bubacarr Jallow a student attending Gambia Senior Secondary School, said he stood for hours on the highway but could not get a vehicle; that there was no commercial vehicle going to Banjul during the time he was waiting for transport on the highway.
“If the drivers continue to operate like this, it is better for government to revisit the tariff again because the differences is minimal and our education must come first,” he said.
However as the day grew older, traffic seems to be better as some vans could be seen on the highway, but with all this, drivers decided to run for short distances.