By Kemeseng Sanneh (Kexx)
The National Drivers’ Association has accused the Gambia Transport Union of disregarding the orders of the high court. The drivers group says they are not fairly treated in the transport sector by the transport union, the Ministry of Trade, and the police.
The drivers’ association sued the transport union, but succeeded partly while the other part of the judgement was in favour of the transport union.
The high court, in its judgement, said: “It is hereby declared that the Applicant having been registered as an association under the laws of The Gambia is entitled to operate and carry out its objectives or mandates and participates in the transport sector in The Gambia without any restriction, interference or hindrance whatsoever from the Respondent, except operating and administering their own Queuing system; and It is hereby declared that as per section 25 of the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia 1997, any commercial driver in the transport sector in The Gambia is entitled to join, associate to be a member of any association created within the sector and opt out and join other association at any time he pleases in accordance with the law.”
The drivers’ association said the high court declared that they have the right to operate in the transport sector, but said despite the high court orders; the police do not recognise their legal status. The group also alleged that the Ministry of Trade is also not adhering to the judgement of the high because they side with the transport union.
The high court further ordered: “It is hereby ordered that the applicant maintain a peaceful coexistence with the Respondent, its members, agents or servants within the transport sector in The Gambia and immediately comply with the queuing system administered by the Respondent.”
The drivers’ union alleged the transport union has not been adhering to the queuing system put in place by the Ministry of Trade and that their vehicles have been sidelined from loading materials. The drivers’ association said some of the businesspersons prefer their vehicles for transportation even though the transport union sidelined them.
On the allegation regarding biases by the Ministry of Trade, the drivers’ association cited the report of a press release issued by the Ministry, stating: “The Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MOTIE) wishes to inform the public that on Thursday 4th May, 2023, it held a consultative meeting with stakeholders of the transport sector and discussed issues raised by the Gambia Drivers Association (GDA) regarding the Queuing System (QS) being administered by the General Transport Union (GTU). The matter has been adjudicated by the High Court of The Gambia and MOTIE aligns itself with the High Court ruling that Transport Drivers Association and its members, agents or servants should comply with the Queuing System (QS) authorized by The Gambia Government in November 2021 as administered by the General Transport Union. Therefore, MOTIE notifies the public and transport sector operators that the General Transport Union (GTU) is the only authorized institution in The Gambia mandated to administer the Queuing System for the transportation of goods within and outside of the country. The issuance of manifests is part of the administration of the Queuing System (QS) to ensure transparency and affective data collection….”
The president of the transport union, Omar Ceesay, in his reaction, denied all the allegations and informed Foroyaa that they are acting according to the ruling of the court and there is no foul play in the transport sector.
Ceesay said his union has been tasked to administer the queuing systems for data collection for the Ministry and they are doing so in a transparent manner by designating the transportation of goods to the right car parks. He said all car parks have a Chief who administers the trucks.
Ceesay maintained that the drivers’ association could explore the court to present their case if they are not satisfied with what is happening. He called on the drivers’ union to join their efforts to have a vibrant transport sector.