Earlier this week, reports emerged that a bus belonging to the Gambia Transport Service Corporation (GTSC) was denied entry into Senegal and stoned by angry protesters of the Senegalese transport unionists. The Senegalese unionists were complaining that the bus service has taken away their market.
Even the intervention of the Senegalese police and customs officials could not pacify the angry unionists. It was also reported that days earlier, another Gambian bus was denied entry into Senegal. This has raised serious concerns as to the relationship between the two countries.
According to the protocols of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), there should be free movement of goods and services between and among member states. Senegal and the Gambia both being members of the economic bloc, should not entertain these type of fracas at this point in time.
In addition to these protocols, the Government of the Gambia and that of Senegal have entered into a number of agreements which should make it easy for the people of the two countries to work together and interact for the benefit of all and sundry. These include the plying of buses from the Gambia to Senegal and vice versa.
However, these agreements are supposed to be based on the mutual understanding and cooperation of two sovereign states. This means that it does not matter which country is bigger or more powerful. All states are equal and each should respect the sovereignty of the other.
In some circles, this incident and others like it are already seen as Senegal trying to bully its smaller neighbour, The Gambia. It is these types of occurrences that cause frictions in borders which may lead to a loss of life if not properly managed.
The Government of the Gambia should therefore take these incidents very seriously and engage their Senegalese counterparts to ensure that the agreement is implemented fully and with justice and equality. This is how both countries will be able to derive maximum benefit from the relationship without undermining each other’s territorial integrity.