By Kebba Secka
Following Government’s announcement of four hundred and fifty dalasi (D450) as cost of the new biometric National Identity Card, the public outcry received by this medium has been overwhelming. Comments have poured in from all quarters of society, that the cost is exorbitant and beyond the reach of the average Gambia. This has prompted Foroyaa to send this reporter to further sample the opinion of Gambians from all walks of life, to show the authorities what Gambians are saying about the issue.
Sanna Sillah of Bundung Jolla Kunda said he is dismayed with the cost of new ID cards; that Government should immediately look into the issue and bring the cost to one hundred dalasi or less, for everybody to get it.
According to him, his call for the immediate reduction of the cost of the new ID card is necessitated by the fact that Gambia’s population is dominated by the extended family system; that four hundred and fifty dalasi will be challenging for every family head to provide for other members. “For instance where you have a family of fifteen and ten of them have reached adulthood, it will be difficult to provide cards for the rest of the family, especially when most of them are jobless,” he said; that Government should work on reducing the cost of living of the people, and not to compact it with another exorbitant expenditure.
One market woman who is a fish vendor at the Serrekunda market, said she has nine children; that she is a widow and is the sole breadwinner of the family; that her husband had tried enough to educate the children who cannot get a decent job up to the time she was speaking to this reporter. The woman said she finds it extremely difficult to feed her family because of the high cost of living; that for another cost to be added to her expenses by Government, is to compact her living condition for the worse, because she will not be able to afford it. “A bag of rice has increased beyond affordability. This means that Government wants us to live in abject poverty. Increasing the cost of ID card is like adding insult to our injury. We want a Government that will reduce the cost of living and not increasing it,” he said.
Still reacting on the high cost of the new ID card, Josephine and Marie Sambou, both residents of Ibo Town, said Government should leave the cost at two hundred dalasi; that most Gambians live below the poverty line and have other challenges of taking care of their families every day; that almost all these challenges have to be solved financially.
Alhagie Njie, a businessman said even if it is not costly for him, but majority the of Gambians will not be able to afford it; that this is why Government needs to peg the cost of the new ID cards for people to get it. Asked to suggest a price, Njie said Government should make it three hundred dalasi D300 so that anybody that reaches eighteen years of age, would be able to have the new ID card.