On Friday the General Transport Union announced its decision to embark on a national strike beginning today. The union is demanding an increase in transport fares, reduction of police checkpoints on the roads and review of toll fees at Sene-Gambia Bridge. This has caused worry and consternation among commuters.
In a move to mitigate concerns, the Ministry of Works issued a statement contending that “it is not justifiable to increase transport fares in a situation of chaos and disorder where commuters are charged multiple fares for the same route”.
The statement read: “Over the last two years, the Ministry of Transport came up with various initiatives including a pilot route licensing model as a strategy to eradicate multiple charging on the same route. While the ministry is currently studying a number of options to support the transporters and ameliorate the challenges they are going through, several innovative solutions are also being proffered obliging all commercial vehicles to have clearly identifiable stickers with indicative destinations to stop multiple charges of commuters.
“On the crossing fee at the Sene-Gambia Bridge, it should be noted that the government has not increased the tariff but rather maintained the same tariff since the inauguration in 2019.”
The ministry announced that the Gambia Transport Service Company (GTSC) will “fully deploy its fleet of buses” across the Greater Banjul Area starting today. It said the deployment strategy is in line with Government’s Transport Policy to ease the difficulties currently faced by commuters. It could be recalled that 38 new buses were launched to curb challenges in the sector.
The bus services will run beyond normal operational hours and will cover the 14 routes in Banjul, Kanifing municipality and West Coast Region.
The ministry announced that the provincial bus services will run as normal and that special bus services will be on standby to respond to upsurge in demand especially in congested areas within the Greater Banjul Area.
In a related development, The Gambia police have warned drivers participating in the strike not to hinder or interfere with drivers who do not wish to be part of the strike. They also warned the striking drivers not to park their vehicles in public places.