Following a series of media interviews conducted by the Gambia Truckers Union in which officials and representatives of the body claimed that Sino Majilac Jalbak, the sand dredging company located at Denton Bridge, has been short changing truckers when it comes to the volume of sand they buy, the said company on May 31, 2023 hosted stakeholders from various Gambia government departments responsible for regulating the sand mining industry who came to do an official measurement fact finding using standard official instruments.
At the conclusion of the exercise, it was determined that contrary to short-changing, the company was in fact giving drivers 3.7 cubic metres for every 3 cubic metres bought, which represents a 23% overage. The stakeholders present were Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Petroleum and Energy; and all institutions that operate under these two – Geology, Weights and Measures, and The Gambia Bureau of Statistics, the Gambia Police Force, Immigration, SIS, Sino Majilac Jalbak, and the Gambia Truckers Union itself. Each of these institutions verified and validated both the process and the results.
The public has recently been inundated with a series of interviews by the GTU with all kinds of allegations being levelled against SMJ, all of which were false and baseless. The public was told that SMJ started selling at D240 per cubic metre and subsequently increased it to the current price of D475. That was false. The company started selling at D650 cubic metre, which was the agreed price with the government, after factoring all relevant operating costs, royalties, and taxes. It was this price that was subsequently reduced to D375 per cubic meter, due to low sales, and later increased to D475 cubic meter where it currently stands. Plans are afoot to bring the price to D600 per cubic due to high cost of fuel and other operating costs, and consultations are ongoing with the relevant stakeholders regarding that. These, and many other allegations were all meant to give them leverage in their effort to force the company to reduce the price down to D309 per cubic, which they claim was their main motive in the onslaught of false allegations, most of which don’t deserve a response. With a trip of sand selling between D8,500 and D15,000 (depending on destination in the KMC and West Coast Region), and with the truckers buying their usual 7 cubic metre of sand instead of the 10 cubic they claim to the public, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the sort of profit margin they are shooting for, even after factoring in the fuel cost of D2,000 per trip. If they cared so much for the welfare of the public that they claimed is why they are insisting on this reduction, why has the price for a trip of sand stubbornly stayed at the same average D8,500 to D15,000 all the years that they were getting sand from the quarries on the Kombo coast where they were getting a trip for D2,225? Did the public not matter then? Why now?
Sino Majilac Jalbak has consistently said that the main reason why this company came about was to solve the triple problems associated with sand mining in our country – end the environmental disaster that eviscerated the Kombo coast, stabilise price of sand in the country – which used to skyrocket especially during rainy season, and fill the gap that the depletion of sand resource on the horizon was about to cause, while helping to get rid of the sand spit at the Denton Bridge per Royal Haskoning’s recommendations which concluded that this spit is the main cause of erosion on the Banjul coastline.
We therefore implore the GTU to join SMJ in this nation -building agenda and not see the company as a rival with competing interest, but one that is a partner and collaborator in our mutual efforts to create jobs, spur economic growth, and make our individual businesses economically viable. Anything short of this is a disservice to the Gambian people.