By: Yankuba Jallow
Omar Ceesay, the President of the Gambia Transport Union, said the transport sector is the backbone of development for the country; that Government cannot impose any tariff on them that is unfavourable.
Ceesay was speaking at a meeting of drivers and stakeholders in the transport sector, held on Sunday September 2nd 2018, in Abuko. Ceesay said it is only through dialogue that they will provide solution; that few individuals cannot be in their offices at the Ministry of Transport and make decisions for them. “We are the people facing the reality in the sector and not those in the offices. We should be involved in all decision making processes,’’ he said.
About the Axle Load Control Programme brought by ‘Afric Passas’, Ceesay said the tariff for the programme won’t be accepted by them because it is unfavourable.
“Government should know that 95% of the drivers are youth who are professionals and the sector serves as their source of employment. We are contributing immensely to economic growth of the country, but for seventeen years now, we have not realised any development on our side. We have deplorable garages and we pay unfavourable wages because of the last dictatorship. We have a New Gambia that is said to be independent. So we will not allow Government to impose things that will have negative impact on our job,” he said. He added that the roads in the country are in deplorable conditions and drivers spend long hours due to traffic congestion.
On the five burnt vehicles during the Faraba Banta incident, Ceesay said they have not forgotten.
“We are waiting for the report of the Faraba Commission. We do not act unnecessarily but they must be paid either by Government or Julakay. The vehicles were owned by people and because of the damage caused on them, the drivers who were employed lost their jobs whilst the owners loss their source of income. It will be unfair if they are not paid,” he said.
President Ceesay called on the government to provide them with a transport sector that suits the country.
Pap Saho speaking on behalf of drivers at the Coastal Road Garage, said they have suffered in the past due to a weak Transport Union.
Bai Nyass representing the Banjul Port drivers, said the Ministry of Transport will fail in it work, if it continues to forsake drivers; that the Ministry of Transport is aware of the leadership crisis in the Transport Union; that they have engaged them but decided to ignore drivers.
Other speakers at the meeting asserted that the Ministry of Transport has failed drivers. They said GFF recently faced crisis and Government intervened and provided a solution. They decried that Government contracts are given to foreign drivers.
“We pay our dues and have all our documents. Why should Government give contracts to foreigners, leaving us? Those that government give contracts to, do not have better qualifications than us,” they said.
The meeting discussed the deplorable conditions of garages in the entire country and called on Government to construct better garages in the country.