As a stakeholder, I am all in for open borders and good business ties within the Senegambia region and beyond. It is only through open business environment that the citizens of the two countries can continue to prosper and deepen our natural cultural ties.
However, it must be said that Senegal is not acting genuinely in dealing with the Gambia when it comes to trading in agricultural products and something needs to be done about it by the Gambian authorities. For the past two years, Senegal’s policy is that no cashew products from Senegal should be brought into The Gambia and anyone found trucking cashew into the Gambian borders risk it being seized by their Customs officials. This is on the pretext that they want to develop their cashew industry through value addition.
It is therefore ironic and unfortunate that The Gambia is currently witnessing unprecedented groundnut buying by Senegalese traders backed by Chinese buyers within The Gambia. In previous years, the Senegalese buyers would hang around the border villages and buy any stock that meets them at their locations. This year they have set up buying points within the country and openly buying any stock that’s available.
The situation is so dire that one would feel sorry for the GGC because at the current pace they are likely not going to get lots of groundnuts in their depots. With the current tourism season struggling with arrivals and therefore foreign exchange earnings, one would have expected that the Government will put in the necessary support to enable the GGC buy the farmer stock to help in getting the country the much needed foreign exchange.
The only reason why the Chinese buyers are camped in Senegal and looking for Gambian groundnuts is due to the agreement between China and Senegal that allows Senegalese nuts to enter China duty-free and quota-free. The Gambia Government will do us all good to have similar arrangements in place.
Finally, in the drive for better economic ties between the two countries, Senegal should open its borders to all agricultural products thereby giving all stakeholders the benefit of choice dictated by value for money.
Metty Trading Company Limited
After the 3 Years Jotna protests, now what?
To a degree, the 3 Years Jotna movement has achieved part of its objective; public expression of disagreement with the flagrant way the Coalition government has negated on its promise as a transitional administration. And though not explicitly expressed anywhere, the original intent was to stand a temporary Coalition government and rapidly move to lay the groundwork for general elections and return to party rule. In theory and for good reason, transitional Coalition governments are notoriously fragile and easily succumb to fracturing and breaking up. This severely affects the security in a country. It’s because of this that such Coalitions are transitory or temporary, in nature.
At this critical juncture, after the Jotna protests, we can collectively restore stability to our fractured politics by coming to terms with reality; that the current government, even after losing its legitimacy as a Coalition, will ride it out to the next elections in 2021. The 3-years Jotna movement can mitigate the pain of having to accept this unsavory situation by moving its agenda to 2021. More specifically, working with other political parties, come to an agreement that bans Adama Barrow from contesting in elections 2021. Adama Barrow would be free to contest in 2026, five years after the end of what’s left of the Coalition. This will ensure the creation of fair elections among contestants for the presidency. This is necessary as it foregoes the advantage of incumbency, which Adama Barrow is exploiting right now, as Gambia looks towards elections 2021. Our elections must not only be FREE, they must also be FAIR. The idea of the Coalition in 2016 never intended turning the transitional Coalition into a political party. This is grossly unfair to other parties that compose the Coalition.