By Binta Jaiteh
Tourist taxi drivers have accused the Ministry of Tourism and Culture of being biased in the distribution of covid-19 subvention funds within the country’s tourism sector, as they claimed an exclusion from the funds’ distribution.
Baba Ceesay, president of the Senegambia Tourist Taxi Drivers Association said the Ministry of Tourism failed to fulfill its promise to them since covid-19 hits the country in 2020.
“We the tourist drivers are affected most by the pandemic and the government neglected us in these past years. Even since the start of Ebola, political impasse, and finally the COVID-19. The National Assembly select committee on tourism is also not helping us because what we discussed with them is not implemented,” he said.
He said they rely on tourism to feed their families and that the “so-called fund that was distributed to the industry some people benefited from it while others did not even smell the money. In a month you are able to earn ten thousand dalasis while they come and give us six thousand dalasis in two years, what is that,” he asked.
According to him, the Red Cross has given packages to the industry, but “they gave it to other people in the industry.”
“The Association had informed the Minister and he told us that he is not aware of the matter, meanwhile he said even though we suffered a lot but this particular one he has assisted us. However, for the upcoming season, I don’t have any hope because for the tourism sector to boost you need to put in plans and strategies to address the situation. On that note, I urge the government to create more sites for tourists to visit. The Gambia is full of islands, guest houses can be built to attract more tourists to boost the industry and economy,” he claimed.
Duwa Bajo, a driver said: “We have a lot of problems in the tourist sector,” adding “since honorable Hamat Bah came to office, we the tourist drivers association was unable to have an audience with him.”