TOBASKI PASSENGERS DECRY SPIKE IN FARES

By Louise Jobe

Basse Garage in Bundung

Passengers travelling to the provinces for the Tobaski feast have decried the high increment of the prices of fares.

The drivers increased the fares with the claim that on their way back they come empty or with few passengers and that the increment will compensate the lack of passengers on their return journey. They all held that passengers are going back to their families and that only few will return to the urban centres in the Kombos.

The fares are D500 for a person and small baggage from Bundung to Basse and D400 for an individual without a baggage. Recently the government issued a nation-wide tariff for passenger transport fares which fixed the fares for Banjul to Basse for gele-gale vehicle at D200. The fare now is twice the tariff for a passenger travelling from Banjul to Basse. The minimum a passenger pays for a luggage is D25.

Most of the passengers said they are ready to spend nights at bus stations than to pay the increased fares. Passengers going to major towns like Bansang and Brikamaba pay the same fare as those of Basse. The drivers say they do this because when they drop a passenger in Bansang or any town or village on the way, they do not pick up any passenger till they reach Basse.

One Tamsir, a driver, said they operate to meet their daily returns for the vehicle owner and not to make losses.

“If we take a full trip to Basse and return empty without passengers we will be running at a loss,” he said.

He said they cannot take a risk and make losses because there are no available passengers on the way back from Basse as everyone is going for Tobaski to their respective villages.

Momodou Jallow, a desperate passenger told this reporter he was with his two relatives who are all under his care and he was supposed to pay for their trip to Basse. He said that with the increment, he may not be able to go to the village because he cannot afford to pay the new fares.

“It is not easy for me because I have come to find a job in the Kombos to sustain my family but I could not get a meaningful one,” he said.

“I cannot pay the new fares for if I do so, then I will not be able to fend for my family upon my arrival,” he said.

Mariama Saidy also a passenger said she uses Tobaski as a means to reunite with her family and loved ones but the increment in fares has discouraged her from embarking on such trip. Modou Lamin Njie, also a passenger said most of the people going back to their families come to the Kombo areas to seek for jobs in order to support and fend for their  families in the rural area.

“If the people work and earn something but could not return to their families because of high fares, then this is cause for concern,” he said.

He said most people take gifts to their families in the rural area in order to celebrate the feast but because of the increment in fares, most of them may decide to go back home as it will be difficult for them.

Tobaski, known as the feast of sacrifice to Muslims, is an annual event when Muslims all over the universe slaughter prescribed livestock. The occasion is one of the biggest days in the Islamic Calendar.