Gambian commuters are lamenting the shylock attitude of transporters in the country, who, in recent times, have been charging double fare for routes in the Greater Banjul Area.
In a bid to make more money the drivers brazenly break their journeys by making two drops. For example, people going to Tabokoto from West Field now pay D16 instead of the usual D8, as the apprentice will call for passengers going to Talinding Buffer Zone or Latrikunda. Once the vehicle arrives at the Buffer Zone or Latrikunda, it will discharge all the passengers and the apprentice will make a call for people going to Tabokoto. Same goes for Coastal Road-West Field Route, which is now halved to Coastal Road Wellingara or Coastal Road-Tabokoto. It is the same pattern in many other routes.
The complacency of the drivers, finance wise, has become the dilemma of many Gambians already groaning under the yoke of economic hardship. Mai Jammeh a, businesswoman, says that she and other women are suffering as they now pay double fare to get to Serrekunda, where they usually buy their goods. She urged the government to intervene and bring the situation under control.
Alpha Saine, a Grade 11 student, said he and his friends sometimes sacrifice their lunch money to enable them pay the double fare to and from school. He also complained that the intransigence of the drivers could have adverse effect on their academic performance because it sometimes makes them get to school late. Alpha appealed to the government to provide enough school buses for students, as according to him, not all of them are from wealthy homes.
On their part, the drivers are adamant.
One of them, Bakary Fofana, said he charges double fare during festive seasons and on working days because as a van driver he is expected to give a thousand dalasi (D1 000.00) or more to his employer every day.
He added that most vehicle owners value money above anything else.
Modou Jarju, a taxi driver, defended the actions of the drivers, saying it is largely influenced by the price of fuel, which sometimes fluctuates.
Another driver, Jatto Samar, who plies the Latrikunda-Westfield route, said taxi drivers who are not vehicle owners must give five hundred dalasi (D500) to their employers every day. He added that they are scared of losing their jobs, which might well happen if they fail to settle their employers as per the employment agreement.