Friday, September 22

Charcoal sellers decry price hikes, poor market condition

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The charcoal sellers pointed out these concerns in an interview with The Point yesterday at the Serekunda market.

Charcoal is a cooking element used by many Gambians and has become a common fuel in households as citizens depend largely on it to prepare food and other usages for human consumption.

However, its price is on the rise as the country experiences scarcity of wood coupled with high transportation cost from the neighboring region of Casamance in the southern part of Senegal.

Sainabou Faye, a charcoal seller at the market, said this never-ending trend is threatening the business across the country asThe Gambia government could not come up with solutions to the high cost basic commodities in the country.

“We are suffering as charcoal vendors as the cost of a bag of charcoal is very expensive now because a bag is costing 375 to 400 dalasis, and when you buy the bag at that amount you have no choice but to increase the price in order to get profit,” she explained, saying:“The customers always complain when we increase our prices, but that is not our fault because if we don’t increase our prices, it is going be losses for us.”

Fatoumatta Saine, a customer, said that during the rainy season most vendors at the Serekunda market face different challenges and charcoal vendors are no exception.

“However, the main problem for these vendors is the issue of roofing which causes their charcoal to get wet and they will find it very difficult to make sales,’ she said.

Mariama Dibba, another seller, also lamented that during the rainy season, they suffer a lot because they do not have enough space to store their charcoal, which is very frustrating.

“Selling charcoal is not easy, especially during rainy season,” she said. “We are always wet and even our charcoal also gets wet and when that happens we lose customers; thus we are calling on the government and those responsible here [at the market]to help us.”

Lamin Danso, a regular charcoal customer, indicated that studies have shown that the traditional method of making charcoal leads to high carbon emissions and contributes a lot to deforestation.

“However, the average Gambian survives from hand to mouth; most of whom are not privileged to invest in modern gas for cooking,” he reasoned.

Mr Danso called on The Gambia government through the local government authorities to help women vendors, specially the charcoal sellers, to build a special place where they will sell their charcoals without facing any difficulties.