By Sailu Bah
Livestock dealers at the Abuko daral (selling point) are complaining about the difficulties they experience pertaining to the high cost of transports and delays at the ferry crossing when bringing their animals from Senegal to The Gambia as some die on the way due to hunger and thirst.
Speaking to some of the livestock dealers during the weekend, Doro Bah, who hails from Kaur and sells both cattle and small ruminants, said the problems they encounter in the transportation of their livestock from the source markets in Senegal to the daral at Abuko is negatively impacting on their trade. “We spend many days transporting these animals on board vehicles without feeding or giving them water to drink and which often leads to the death of the weaker ones due to thirst and hunger,” he disclosed.
He said the live animals sometimes lose weight on the way which reduces the value of the animal.
“In order to facilitate the availability of rams for the Tobaski feast, the authorities should help us to urgently address the long delays that we always experience at the Barra-Banjul ferry crossing as some dealers are being discouraged from bringing their livestock into the Gambia
“If efforts are made by the authorities to help in facilitating the availability of rams, then the prices will certainly go down to a level that they would become affordable,” advised the livestock trader.
Alagie Bah, another livestock dealer, explained the problems they face in hiring a vehicle to transport their livestock as the cost is always hiking, adding that sometimes it is even difficult to hire truck drivers in the Gambia to transport their animals.
He claimed that some truck drivers in the Gambia mainly concentrate on other businesses such as timber and do not transport livestock but would protest when foreign drivers are hired for this purpose.
The issue of the appreciating CFA Franc against the Gambia Dalasi was also raised by the livestock dealers and which they said is one of the major problems hindering their trade.
“The amount of CFA Francs which you needed to buy five rams some few years ago cannot now fetch you more than three because of the depreciating Dalasi,” lamented Samba Maram Bah.
Speaking to the head of the Abuko daral , Kebba Jobe, he said the problems the livestock dealers encounter cannot be over-emphasised.
He said they entirely depend on the livestock trade for their survival but added that they are facing numerous challenges that are negatively impacting on their business and the livelihood of their families.
“We are just trying to make ends meet, but frankly speaking, the livestock business is not as lucrative as it used to be before, as the cost of the animals and transportation are always hiking,” admitted the Abuko daral head.
Mr. Jobe explained that the cost of feed for the animals is also on the increase. “It is very expensive to feed the animals when they are brought here as one big bag of hay that lasts for only few days now costs D400, while the smaller one is D125. All these expenses if added on to the price of a ram make it expensive for the average person,” he said.
He concluded by calling on government and the other relevant authorities to help them urgently address these bottlenecks, including the delays at the ferry crossing as well as providing security for the animals so as to encourage more dealers to bring their animals to the Gambia for the forthcoming Muslim Tobaski feast.