Barely two days after the closure of the Gambia – Senegal border at Amdalaye – Karang for all vehicles from either side by the Senegalese road transport union officials, the crossing at Farafenni – Kerr Ayip was also closed to all Senegal bound vehicles yesterday, 18 February, 2016, again in reaction to the reported introduction of a new tariff imposed by the Gambia on all Senegalese registered trucks entering the country.
Visiting the Farafenni – Kerr Ayip border yesterday, this reporter noticed that vehicles from The Gambia were not allowed to enter the Senegalese side, while the Gambian side was allowing entry, especially of small private vehicles. Although, the Senegal bound commercial trucks which frequent this Trans-Gambia road were nowhere to be seen, as they have been diverted to the Tambacounda route, according to the Senegalese road transport union officials.
The blockade of trucks at this crossing started at 5pm on Wednesday, 17 February, while the small vehicles were allowed entry and exit. However, the closure of the border for the entry of all vehicular traffic into Senegal, including small vehicles, commenced yesterday morning.
While at the Gambian side of the border, the small commercial passenger vehicles with Gambian registration that were transporting goods owned by Senegalese traders were seen discharging passengers and unloading their wares on horse-carts to take to the other side in Senegal. As for the Gambian registered trucks with goods bound for Senegal, they are stranded at the border and not allowed to enter.
Ebrima Ceesay, one of the drivers of the Gambian registered trucks, who is transporting groundnuts into Senegal, said he was denied laissez passe by the Senegalese Customs and has been there for three days.
“This sort of problems at the borders should be resolved quickly and amicably by the concern authorities as they seriously affect businesses in the two countries,” he appealed.
The union representatives and transporters were busy holding a closed door meeting at Kerr Ayip from 3pm to 5pm.
Talking to Mr. Alasane Ndoye, the secretary general of one of the road transport unions, who was also at this meeting, he told this reporter that he was going back to Dakar for further consultations with the authorities to determine their subsequent actions.
The Senegalese transport owners and their representatives said they are protesting against the introduction of a new tariff by the Gambian authorities for their trucks to be paying FCFA 400, 000 (which is more than D26, 000) in addition to the FCFA 1000 per tonne which they have been paying at the ferry crossings. They claimed that it is the Gambia customs which is demanding this new charge which they described as “exorbitant and unacceptable”.
Foroyaa will contact the Customs on the issue of this ‘new tariff’ being protested against by the road transport union leaders. The officials were indisposed due to their bereavement, following the death of one of the senior officers of the authority.