Hundreds of early morning commuters were stranded yesterday after some section of the transport operators staged a sit-down strike, apparently unhappy about the recent decision by government to reduce transport fares.
Key intersections such as Westfield, Latrikunda and large part of the Greater Banjul Area were affected as many drivers parked their vehicles in protest.
At Westfield, police had to intervene to stop striking drivers and their sympathizers obstructing non-striking drivers to work.
The strike action came after a reported failure in negotiations between the operators and the government. While the government claimed every stakeholder was consulted, some of the unionists said their concern has not been put into consideration.
As they day wore on yesterday, things appeared to have returned to normal with most drivers back to their normal work.
The Standard also understood that officials and unionists, believed to be sympathetic to the strike action, have been called by security agents for a meeting where an understanding has been reached for the strike to end, opening an opportunity for further negotiations.
Meanwhile last night the Ministry of Transport issued the following statement:
“It has come to the notice that some drivers are on strikes as a result of transport fare reduction, which takes effect today,21 August,2017.This unfortunate move by these drivers, to some extent ,is affecting service levels in certain routes in the country.
The general public is hereby informed that the action of these drivers is rather confusing as there was extensive consultation among all the relevant stakeholders, key among which are:
- Ministry of Finance, and Economic Affairs
- Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Employment
- Public Utilities and Regulatory Authority
- The Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Authority
- The Gambia Agriculture Food and Industrial Workers Union
- The Gambia National Transport Control Association
- The Gambia National Transport Union Congress
- The Gambia Trade Union Congress
It is learned that some Union Leaders, who actively took part in the negotiations, are in fact instigating the strikes, and encouraging restriction of the movement of other drivers who are willing to serve the public.
We hereby reaffirm that there is no reason to turn back to the old tariffs. All Transport Unions/Associations and drivers are advised to abide by new tariffs. Therefore, we would like to call on all the relevant stakeholders especially the transport Unions and drivers to make this fare reduction a reality. The government is committed in ensuring that the benefit of current pump price reductions fully trickles down to the general public.