By Binta Jaiteh
Members of the Tipper Trucks Association of the Gambia which comprises truck owners and drivers have boycotted patronize of the Sino Magilac Mining Company based on their unlimited and frequent increase of the metric cubic of sand which now increased to D600 (per cubic meter).
The general members across the country gathered at Paradise Estate on Sunday, 4th May 2023 to hold a press conference to show their concern to the general public while calling on the government of The Gambia to intervene in this frequent increase of the price of sand from Sino Magilac Mining Company.
Expressing their grievances at the press briefing, the members of the association disclosed that within a short period of operation of this company, the price of sand (per cubic meter) has been increased many times as “they started D240 and increased to D325, later to D475 and now to D600!”
Speaking during the press briefing, Sulayman Mbaye, Chief Public Relations Officer of the Tipper Trucks Association said their main concern about the frequent increase of the price by the mining company is the citizens especially the end users that are their customers.
Saying the citizens are complaining bitterly about this frequent hike of sand as they failed to know that the increase is not from truck drivers but from Sino Magilac Mining Company where they are buying at a high cost.
“We all know that in this country the poverty rate is too high and most of the people cannot afford the price of sand at this moment, especially with the increase,” he noted.
According to him, sand is available in the country “but why are the citizens finding it difficult to buy, the answer, it is because the government is not subsidizing the price for us so that many people will be able to afford to, we want equal rights.”
For Ousman Manneh, he said the issue of the price hike of sand in this country is an urgent concern, a lot of truck drivers can’t afford 10 cubic meters most of them buy 7 cubic meters just to make a profit.
He noted that it is recently that they started buying sand in cubic meters, “previously it was sold at D1,000 you buy fuel, pay to load and so on but later sell between D6,500 and D7500. While now it is higher, how can we sell to the customers.”
He added that as the government is making it difficult, people daily continue suffering and this suffering will not end unless the government intervened.
He lamented further that they cannot buy the sand at an expensive price and sell below the price, “the government should know that the drivers are not on sit-down strike but we deem it necessary that this is about the country and the way this company is dealing with us is not of interest of anyone, especially the poor masses.”
Samba Sarr from Siffoe described their gathering for the press briefing as crucial to the interest of the citizens and the country.
He noted that he had previously said that if nothing is done about this issue of frequent increases in price from the mining company, it will become a problem to live with “because we all want to have a place that we can call ours while renting becomes an issue and expensive for tenants.”
However, the mining company at the Saro in Denton Bridge will continue to monopolize the mining because they are empowered saying “The Minister claimed that those other places have environmental damages. Who did those damages, it is the government since it is through their instruction those places were mined.”
According to them, other places are closed “while it is only Saro – Sino Margilac Mining Company open. Now buying from Sino Margilac Mining Company is expensive, and also Sino Margilac Mining Company we are facing a lot of challenges. It is high time this issue is addressed because we were not consulted in their increase each time they are introducing new price.”
In the beginning, it was believed that the mining company was an individual company but now it is “wide open that it belongs to the government.”
Allagie Janha, a truck driver stressed that all the hardships they are facing are from the Government so “we will continue to boycott their sand until things become resolved and normal. We want the government to know that we are not striking but we are sitting for the interest of the whole country. We the youths are suffering and I don’t believe in democracy because if it was a democratic state one to two days the government should be concerned to call the stakeholders and solve the situation.”