“Communication Breakdown caused Drivers’ Standoff” -union leader

By: Nelson Manneh

The President of The Gambia Transport, Agriculture, Food and Industrial Workers Union (GTAFIWU), the umbrella body of all the transport associations in the Gambia, said there was lack of enough information and communication between the authorities and drivers, through the Union, resulting in the noncompliance and sit down, that drivers had regarding the new tariff.

Mr. Jobe said when Government decided to reduce the transport fares, they were not informed on time, until when action on the decision was taken.

“We were invited to a meeting on the same day that government representative gave us the handouts of the new fare. This seems to be an imposition of their decision imposed on the union,” he said. “Some drivers are still in detention particularly at the Brikama Police Station,” he confirmed.

He said just because the pump price of fuel has been from D56 to D42, does not mean that fares should be reduced.

Mr. Nfarama Saidy, the National Field Coordinator of the Union said, there was no document connected to the new fare tariff that was signed between them and the Ministry of Transport.

The National Field Coordinator of the Union added that, during the meeting they put it to them that they have nothing to discuss with the drivers because it was a directive and the only thing they can do is to give the tariff to the drivers as it was given to them.

He said, the drivers are not happy at all with the step taken by the authorities; that as a Union, they should have been consulted first after which they will discuss with the drivers and proceed with their instructions without obstruction.

‘‘This new government must understand that communication is important if we want to realize our development objectives,’’ Saidy said. ‘‘We participated fully in last December’s elections and we need to be treated equally too,’’ he remarked. He said the reason why the drivers said no to the new transport fares is when the new government came to power, they ordered for a reduction in taxes of most basic commodities but that the prices of these basic commodities still remain the same.

Mr. Tabora Touray the Assistant Secretary General of the Union said, their main objective is to reduce the poverty rate of union members and compliment the efforts of government in assuring a better living condition for Gambians.

“Before most drivers live from hand to mouth but now most of them are with their bank accounts,” he said. “Government is a partner in development and the unions cannot be left out. We are ready to work with the government if they respect our views,” he said.