By: Ebrima Mbaye
Scores of commercial drivers in the Greater Banjul Area have disagreed with the government over the increment of transport while they preferred a reduction in the cost of fuel.
The drivers spoke their minds a few days after the Ministry of Transport announced the increment in fares across the country which takes effect today. Speaking out their minds was because the announcement did not go down well with most of the drivers who said the price of fuel should be regulated first.
Speaking to The Voice newspaper, Ablie Bob, a taxi driver, “fare increment is a result of the increased cost of fuel in the country. The government should be working on how to reduce the fuel cost first before any other thing. This fare increment will disturb all Gambians both drivers and clients. Fuel cost is the principal problem when that is solved the issue will be solved.”
On a similar note, HamatDrammeh, a driver at the Banjul terminal said “if the fare increases we are the same people who will shoulder the burden. What we want is the fuel price to reduce and maintain the same tariff because things are not easy.”
Another driver, SarjaDrammeh, added that when fares are increased it will favor them as drivers because everybody is looking for their interest. Thus, the government should have reduced the fuel cost before increasing fares. Adding the transport Union should issue tariffs that are accurate to avoid commotion in traffic.
Muhammed SirrehDrammeh, “The main problem of transport in this country is fuel cost. They should seat together and discuss this issue. Honestly price control is key if this is done, it will help”, he said.
Hamat Gaye, who doubles as an adviser and head of the terminal car park, said drivers at the terminal mostly rely on town trips but some take people into the town. “The increment of fares is something good but the issue of ending doubling or tripling of fares in road transport will not stop.”
On the side of the terminal, SulaymanTamba alias Papis, the vice car park head at the Banjul terminal disclosed that normal cars crossing to Barra pay D600, and cars that wish to cross with VIP pay D1500.
“This fare increment will disturb everybody. The road size of the country is very small which at time force you to spend at least two hours from Banjul to Latrikunda this is not helping drivers who depend on their job to feed their families,” he explained.
He called the transport Union to stand firm for the drivers because the ministry established is not doing so.”
On her part, TourandingJanneh, a business woman also said that “fare increment will cause setbacks and difficulties in our businesses. We travel from Badibu to the Kombos where we buy goods and transport them to Badibu but now when they add the fares, it will give us challenges and at some point, we will stop coming because of the fares,” she emotionally explained.
The Business Lady said the government and respective authorities should look for another remedy because things are very hard in the country.
Ebrima Ceesay, “This will cause the drivers a lot of problems because some clients are difficult to deal with and today, most of them will refuse to pay.”
He said the increment is not the drivers’ wish, but the authority’s decision must be respected while he called for mutual understanding between drivers and passengers.
A commuter, Wuyeh Fatty described fare increment as a challenging task that will be difficult to stop. However, “I’m calling on the Traffic Police to join hands with Transport Union to stop this challenging problem and let passengers start speaking against silence to the Police whenever a driver wants to act otherwise,” he appealed.