By Adama Makasuba
In May this year, The Gambia Police command announced the special traffic enforcement crackdown on foreign commercial vehicle drivers in the country, but three months into the operation there is still a high presence of non-Gambian commercial drivers in the transportation sector.
The police said foreign nationals are not allowed to drive commercial vehicles in The Gambia but since the announcement there has been a sharp increase in the number of foreign nationals driving commercial vehicles on the roads, hence raising a security concern. The move according to the police is necessitated to ensure public safety.
Following up on this issue, The Voice Newspaper has discovered that the police announcement three months ago has not made any relevance hence there is still a high presence of foreign commercial drivers, especially with the Joe Ride TukTuk company.
The follow-up centered on the TukTuks has revealed that the police crackdown has made little or no impact.
Out of the ten of the Joe Ride TukTuks inspected by this reporter six are driven by non-Gambians.
Joe Ride Global Gambia Ltd (JRGG) is an NGO funded by Ummah Welfare Trust UK (UWT) and the West Africa Relief and Development Association (WARDA)to support about 50 Gambian Imams. The Imams earned £30 per month (D1, 981. 20). But the donors also want to create employment for Gambian youths.
The six drivers who confirm to be Sierra Leoneans and Guinean nationals said the police crackdown lasted for a few days.
“You know the Gambian police are never serious. They just made things difficult for us for a few days and since then we have not heard from them,” one of the drivers said. But Momodou Ceesay, a Gambian national and a TukTuk driver said the police should enforce the ban because some foreign drivers are careless about the safety of their passengers.
When contacted for comments, Ismaila Ceesay, General Manager of Joe Ride admitted that over 30% of his company drivers are foreigners. He said the remaining 65% or so are Gambians.
“To be honest, they are all not Gambians but Gambians dominated the foundation because anyone coming for employment is required to come with his driving license or national identity card and if you are not a Gambian you come with your valid permit. So, the number of Gambians working here is more than 60 percent and the non-Gambians will amount to less than 40% or so,” Ceesay said.
Ceesay added: “This is happening because there is no law which says non-Gambians shouldn’t drive commercial vehicles. We will terminate the services of all our non-Gambian drivers if there is a law to that effect. We do prioritize Gambians but the problem is many Gambians feel too big to drive the TukTuk.”
However, The Voice’s attempt to reach out to the NGO through Joe’s ride was unsuccessful.