By Tabora Bojang
The general manager of the Gambia Transport Service Company, GTSC, has informed members of the National Assembly select committee on public enterprises that most of the company’s buses have operated beyond the manufacturers’ recommended mileage of 300,000 kilometers.
Seedy Kanyi made this disclosure at the presentation of the company’s 2019 activity report with its parent Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation before lawmakers Thursday.
The country’s main public transport provider was established by the SSHFC in 2013 to provide safe, reliable and affordable bus transportation to Gambians.
Mr. Kanyi told deputies that the company has replenished its bus fleet three times since inception with a total of 45 buses intermittently purchased in 2015, 2016 and 2019 respectively.
Outlining some of the constraints, the general manager said: “Aging and overused fleet have been one of our main challenges. According to the manufacturers, the buses were supposed to last for 7 years or clock 300,000 kilometers, however, most of our buses have operated over 700,000 kilometers due to lack of buffers to relieve them. Due to the age and usage, the buses have become hard to maintain. Even with our well-equipped and stocked workshops, the engineering department is now mostly performing corrective maintenance instead of preventive maintenance to improve reliability which uses more spare parts, oil, lubricants and manpower. The limited fleet size makes it difficult for us to adapt to customer needs and requirements.”
Other challenges facing the company according to Mr. Kanyi include fuel cost, foreign exchange fluctuations and hitches at international borders as GTSC buses encounter issues at borders and other informal checkpoints despite agreements with governments, security forces and transport unions of neighbouring countries.
He added that the GTSC has a very important and strategic role in the socio-economic development of the Gambia and as such, the government could intervene and assist the company in reducing cost by granting it fuel exemption tax to allow it operate more services since 34 percent of the total revenue goes into fuel impacting on fleet management and expansion.