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500 trucks stranded at border over increased cement import duty

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By Amadou Jadama

Following the Gambia government’s reported increment of import duty on cement from D30 per bag to D180 from Senegal through land, the Cement Importers and Traders Association on Saturday converged at Kerr Ayib border post in Farafenni calling on government to renege its decision.

The importers have registered disappointment over the duty hike from D30 to D180 by the government and described it as an attempt to kill businesses.

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Speaking to The Standard, Modou Jobe, secretary general, said: “If you are aware that the selling price of cement is D375 to D380. So, if you have a duty of D180 per bag, this means that you want to pull us out of business because nobody would be able to bring cement at a cost of D320 from the factory and you add D180, and you try to sell it at D380. Therefore, they are trying to block cement coming from Senegal.

The government is claiming that they want to protect the domestic industry. Now the issue is, The Gambia does not manufacture cement. Most of the operators import their cement by vessels, while we import ours through land.”

He added: “Our five hundred trucks have been stranded here and they cannot cross because no one can afford to pay D180 per bag. If the government blocks us, at least 200 trucks moving into The Gambia everyday bring cement at D30,000, and the government makes D6 million a day.”

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Asked whether government had engaged them, Mr Jobe responded: “We have never been consulted about this price increase. It was just over night increase. Our welfare was never considered, our people we employ and the welfare of the Gambian people. So, how can the government make decisions in secret over night and implement it? That is not right and it is not how the market should operate.”

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