Kebba Jeffang Reporting from Basse URR
Amid the protracted closure of the Gambia and Senegal borders for 55 days today, Foroyaa decided to conduct a vox-pop on the state of small businesses in Basse, a major provincial town and transit centre, to find out how this development is impacting on them.
In an interview with Fatou Bah, a middle aged woman, who sells vegetables in the main market, she started by explaining the crucial role she plays now in the maintenance of her family as the husband who was the sole breadwinner is now aging. She said the vegetables she sells are bought from the border town in the neighbouring republic of Senegal and transported into the Gambia.
“This trade is what I and my family almost entirely depend on for our survival and also the payment of the children’s school fees. I wake up every morning and take a transport to this Senegalese border town to buy the vegetables which I bring back to sell at the market here in Basse, but since the closure of the borders to vehicles, we have been finding it very difficult to get our supplies,” disclosed Madame Bah.
She lamented the frequent closure of the borders, adding that it always affects their small businesses and livelihoods.
She urged the authorities in both the Gambia and Senegal to find a lasting solution to this perennial problem for the sake of their populations, especially the traders who traverse the two countries.
Another woman vendor, Aja Kombeh, reiterated the negative impact that the closure of the border is having on her trade.
She also called on the two governments to re-open the borders as soon as possible, adding that the two peoples are inseparable and that it is the duty of the leaders to ensure that harmony and good neighbourliness prevails between the two countries.
“We are facing serious economic problems in our homes now because of the impact of the border closure on our small businesses. Women in Basse are hard working and do everything possible to help in supplementing the incomes of their husbands in the maintenance of the household. This is why the government should do everything possible to ensure that this problem is resolved as a matter of urgency to safe the businesses and families from further crisis,” she appealed.
Speaking to one of the commercial drivers plying the Basse (Gambia) –Jawbeh (Senegal) route, who prefers anonymity, he confirmed that most of his fellow drivers have been seriously affected by the border closure as they are losing their customers who are mainly the women vegetable sellers.
“How can we work in this type of situation?” he asked.
He added “This incident has completely paralysed us in our work.”
The commercial vehicle driver also called on both the Gambian and Senegalese governments to sit down and address this problem once and for all for the sake of their respective citizens.