Essa Drammeh, the director of Transport at the Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure, said the Gambia Transport Union did not give them (ministry) room for negotiation amid drivers’ sit-down strike.
Meanwhile the Gambia Transport Union (GTU) President Omar Ceesay said the Ministry Transport did not consult them for dialogue over the on-going strike.
GTU puts a series of demands for the government to meet such as; the reduction of fuel price, reduction the number of police checkpoints on the main highways, reduction of fees at the Senegambia Bridge and also the extension of driver’s licence expiration time.
However, according to the Union, if the government fails to meet these demands, the sit-down strike may run for 72 hours.
“They do not give us any room for negotiation because on Friday they came here (to the ministry) and met the minister of Transport. After that meeting they declared a sit-down strike on Monday,” Mr. Drammed said.
Asked whether the Transport Union’s demands are genuine, he said: “I am not saying their demands are not genuine but there should be procedures. When you are going for industrial actions, you cannot just jump and say next tomorrow we are going on a strike.”
“If they think the process is taking too long they should have told us that and given us a deadline. This is what was missing,’’ he said.
However, Director Drammeh said the sit-down strike is neither in the interest of the Transport Union nor the general public or government.
He noted that over the past years the ministry had a good relationship with the Transport Union, saying nothing should jeopardise such good working relationship.
“We see them (Transport Union) as part of our family and whatever issue is affecting them we should be able to sit as a family and resolve that rather than embarking on such industrial actions which we were not expecting,’’ he said.
Moving forward, Drammeh said doors of the Ministry of Transport are ever open for negotiations, adding that commercial drivers have a very good role to play in the society.
Meanwhile, he called on the Transport Union to reach to the ministry for further negotiations.