By Louise Jobe / Madi Njie
The president of the Gambia National Transport Union Omar Ceesay, and his Senegalese counterpart Gora Huma, together with other stakeholders, gathered at the B.O Semega Janneh Hall in Bundung on Wednesday May 1st 2019, to discuss the problems faced by drivers at border crossing points between their two countries. Omar Ceesay, president of the Gambia National Transport Union said the importance of drivers in society cannot be overemphasised. His Senegalese counterpart Gora Huma, said drivers everywhere are the same, and solving their problems means solving the interest of the two nations. He reiterated that Gambia and Senegal are one and the same people, and the motor tariff should be equal to drivers in both nations.
Gumbo Gaye, senior supervisor at the Abuko Truck garage, said the relationship between Senegal and Gambia, needs to be looked into, as far the transport sector is concerned. He asserted that the authorities should address the issue of taxation paid at border posts especially the Laissez Passes or tax imposed by Senegalese authorities.
According to him, a truck that leaves Gambian soil to bring granite stones for the construction industry, used to pay 3,000 CFA for a Laissez Passes; but that this has been increased to 5,000 CFA per truck for a duration of ten days; that after the expiry of this period, the truck drive has to come back to the border post to extent the period of his Laissez Passes. Gaye complained that Senegalese drivers pay only once and will stay in the country until they finish all their transactions; that this is unfair treatment meted on them by Senegalese authorities, and urged the Minister in charge of transport in the Gambia, to do something about this urgently; that otherwise this will sour relations between the two Unions. The issue of assistance from the two Governments to unite all transport Unions within the two countries, was also raised and discussed at the gathering.
It was recommended that drivers from all sectors of society within Senegambia, be it in the Health, Education, Agriculture and the business sectors, are one and the same; that the time is ripe to have a viable Union in the country, that can fight for the rights of drivers, and for the state and people to recognize the importance of a driver’s union for the development of the country.
Job protection, salaries, drivers’ benefits and vehicle packing space, were major issues discussed at the gathering. It was indicated that these are issues that affect drivers within the Senegambia sub-region and they called on the Ministry’s responsible for transport in both countries, to do something about their plight with urgency.