By Lamin Fatty in URR
21 February 2016 – Commercial passenger vehicles, trucks, private cars and even motor bicycles are all currently stranded at the Sabi – Velingara border as the Senegalese officials have closed the border and denying entry and exit to all forms transportation.
This impasse, according to sources, started since Saturday, 20 February 2016.
When this reporter travelled to the said border to see things for himself, he found a lot vehicles packed on both sides of the border waiting to cross to the other side.
In an interview with Musa Bagayogo, a Malian truck driver with registration number Ap-4332 MD, he said his 6 tonnes truck arrived at the said border on Saturday at around 8 am and was told that they cannot cross. He said when further enquired as to why they could not enter the answer was simply that no vehicle should be allowed to cross the border.
Sorry Kalley, a Malian bus driver who transports passengers from Bamako to Banjul, said they arrived at the border around 6 am but were surprised to find the border closed with no vehicle allowed to enter. He said the situation is very frustrating and that they have informed the owners and managers of their transport service in both Bamako and Banjul about the situation as there is no food or water available at the said border.
Another traveller, Egbe Malyu, who is a Nigerian national living in Gambia for over six years and going to Nigeria on a business trip, also narrated a similar experience. He explained that he and the person he works for are taking smoked fish to Nigeria and but were stopped at the border when they arrived there in the early hours of the morning. He, however, expressed his disappointment with this development, adding that the ECOWAS protocol allows for the free movement of goods and services within the West Africa region. He said this sort developments always affect businesses and have a negative impact on the economies of the countries in the sub-region. He therefore appealed to the concerned authorities to remedy the situation urgently.
This reporter approached the Senegalese officials at the border for their comment regarding reports of the border closure. The Senegalese border officials maintained the border is not closed but it is the vehicles that are not allowed cross.
When contacted, Momodou Trawally, the president of Upper River Region (URR) section of the recently banned transport control association, told this reporter that he has no comments to make on the issue since his union is no longer operating. He, however, urged the drivers to exercise patience and expressed hope that the matter is resolved amicably as the Gambia and Senegal are two countries with the same people.