By Maria Lopes and Alieu Ceesay
June 28, 2021
Tougher times await commuters as commercial drivers contemplate increasing transport fares yet again.
The drivers are toying with the idea due to the recent fuel price hike.
With effect from Tuesday, 1st June 2021, the price of a litre of petrol increased from D52.03 to D 56.11 while diesel rocketed from D50.64 to D53.42.
Most of the drivers said they only become aware of the fuel price increment at filling stations, complaining that there is a lack of consultation between them and the government.
They claim that the recent fuel price hike means they cannot get what they have worked for the day, adding that, with a litre of petrol at D56.11, most drivers will have no option but to charge D10 instead of the officially approved D8 per drop.
One of the drivers, Lamin Sanneh, described the fuel price hike as ‘disappointing’.
He said: “The fuel price increment doesn’t favour us drivers, sometimes they even increase the price of fuel without us being aware of it, but we have no choice, we must buy fuel because we make our living by driving taxis. Most of us are not driving our own vehicles, we have to settle the vehicle owners and also get something for our families.”
It is now very common for taxis to refuse taking in passengers who pay the normal tariff for a route. They rather look out for someone to hire them on town trip. They do this even in rush hours, with no iota of pity whatsoever for passengers who are usually stranded. The drivers say the blame for such wicked acts lie on vehicle owners who, according to them, insist on D500.00 settlement every day.
Alhagie Secka, a taxi driver, while lamenting that the high cost of fuel is affecting their business, said it will be unfair for people to blame drivers for increasing transport tariffs.
“We don’t do it out of our own selfish interest, sometimes the only way to earn something before closing is to take two or three people on a town trip because most of the drivers are employed by owners who demand D500 every day,” he revealed.
The drivers also accused government of being responsible for the unfortunate transport situation in The Gambia, saying the authorities failed to control the price of fuel and minimise the traffic congestion, as characterised by incessant gridlocks, which is mainly due to the poor road network.
It would be recalled that the President of the Gambian Transport Union (GTU) Omar Ceesay, in a recent interview with The Progress Newspaper, had declared that drivers increasing traffic tariff is illegal.
The GTU prezy, however, complained about the contributing factors that are making drivers to increase the traffic tariff. These, according to him, include the abysmal road network, lack of a proper traffic management committee in the country, and the fuel price not being controlled by the government.
He also assured that they are working assiduously with stakeholders towards improving the transport system.