Mustapha Jallow and Ousman Sillah
21 February, 2016 – At the time of going to press all the official border entry points were closed to vehicles either from The Gambia or Senegal moving across the border. The three articles below explain the situation at four important border posts.
The closure of the Amdalaye-Karang border on Tuesday, 16 February, 2016 seems to be having a domino effect on the other Gambia-Senegal entry points with the Farafenni-Kerr-Ayip following suit the next day and now it is the Jiboro-Seleti border being closed to all categories of vehicles by officials on both sides.
A Gambian vehicle owner reported that he was denied entry by soldiers at Seleti on the Senegalese side of the border when he was travelling to attend a charity in Casamance on Friday, 19 February, 2016.
“When I arrived at the border with my Gambian registered vehicle, the soldiers on the Senegal side denied me entry on the basis that they received orders not allow any vehicle from the Gambia to enter,” said the Gambian vehicle owner.
He explained that because they were on an important mission to witness the charity of a relative who had passed away, he eventually had to borrow the vehicle of a visiting friend which is Senegalese registered in order to pass through.
“Unfortunately, on my return, the police on the Gambian side at Jiboro also denied me entry with the vehicle and also citing orders from authorities above. I had to leave the vehicle at Seleti and take a commercial vehicle to Brikama. In fact my Senegalese friend is now stranded and had to go all the way to the border to collect his car,” he added.
The vehicle owner further explained that it took him almost two hours from around 5pm to twilight in trying to convince the Gambian officials to allow him to enter with the vehicle but without success.
According to him, when he enquired from the Gambian officials why they are closing the border to vehicles from Senegal, he was told that it is because the vehicles of 3 senior Gambian officials who were travelling to Casamance were denied entry.
Visiting the border area yesterday, Sunday, 21 February, one of these reporters was told by some of the people he met there that vehicles are not being allowed to enter into either Gambia or Senegal.
He also saw a Gambian registered vehicle that was about to enter Senegal being asked to turn back by a soldier. Two fully loaded trucks and a mini bus, apparently heading into Senegal, were also seen packed on the Seleti side of the border.
Since the reported introduction of this ‘new tariff’ and commencement of the closure of borders, no official statement was made on the issue by either of two governments in Gambia and Senegal.
It is not yet known as to how much revenue is being lost by the Banjul-Barra and trans-Gambia ferries or is the increase of the cost of having to take the longer route via Tambacounda by Senegalese transport owners. However, what is certain is that this development is having a negative impact on the economies of the two countries as is confirmed by the operators and traders.
There is the need for the authorities in the two countries to address these perennial border/ferry tariff problems that occur from time to time.