By Fatoumatta Conteh
The rising prices of the different species of fish in the Gambia is on the hike and showing no sign of relenting. Vendors in the fisheries sector have complained that the situation is becoming difficult for them.
A lady who engages in the buying and selling of fish said they are finding it difficult to get fish because the fishermen cannot supply all the buyers.
“When the fishermen land with their catch, it disappears so quickly because of the high demand by market vendors, but the major buyers are always served as a priority,” she said.
Vendors who spoke to Foroyaa all called on the Government to address to the indiscriminate increment of the price of fish by the fishermen. The traders said they buy fish at a high price and make extra payments including transportation and storage. The traders want price control in the sector to put a stop at the never-ending increment of the fish price by the fishermen.
According to the vendors, they used to buy a basket of fish at D1500, D2000 or D3000, but now the price has skyrocketed to D6000, D7000 and D12,000. This, in their view, is the principal cause of the price hike of fish in the country.
Vendors claim that some of their colleagues have stopped the business, waiting for the Government to take steps to control the price hike in the fishing industry.
“The prices of fish in our various markets have continued to increase on a daily basis such that a basket of fish that we used to buy at D1500 or D2000 has now jumped through the roof (meaning it has now become expensive for ordinary Gambians),’’ lamented Jama Cessay, a fish seller at Tippa Garage Fish Market.
When there is shortage of fish, according to her – the price then goes up to D7000 or D9000 for a basket of fish. She detailed that species like the red-snapper could go up to D8000 or even D9000.
“There is fish these days but people are not buying them much from us. The skyrocketing prices have driven our customers away,” Jama said.
The saleswoman said she purchased a basket of fish containing red-snapper fish for D6000 on Tuesday. She explained that she hired a taxi for transporting the fish – at D200 per basket adding she bought ice for D150 per sack.
“And now, I will be selling the fish for D100, D200 or D300. After all the spending, I don’t usually make any profit,’’ Ceesay narrated to Foroyaa.
Another fish-vendor, Kaddy Touray, a 19-year-old lady, who sells fish on behalf of her mother at Sanchaba market explained how they get the basket of fish at Tanji-fishing sites. She said when there is inadequate fish, the price of bonga fish goes up to D2000 per basket, unlike the red-snappers that are more expensive than the bonga. She mentioned that when there is adequate fish, they get bonga at D1200.
“The cost of fish is getting more expensive– we the sellers are not happy with the situation. It has forced some to even abandon the trade and engage into other businesses. Therefore, I call on the authorities to do something in the fisheries sector,’’ she lamented.
Adama Sarr also sells fish at the tipper-garage market on behalf of his mother. He said he buys fish for his mother and sells it at Bakoteh Fish Market. He said he bought a basket of a particular species of fish locally called ‘tapandar’ for D8000 and lady-fish at D12,000. ‘Choff’, butter fish and some other species cost D 14,500 per basket. He explained that they make other expenditures including transporting the fish to the market.
He said: “The issue of fish is not easy at all. It was easy those days but not anymore. And the fish normally finishes after one week, which means you will put all of your profit in buying ice. Fish is very expensive because when you buy a basket for D12,000 that is the time you will know fish is expensive in the country. We need serious help at the sea and we want the government to do something about it.’’
Omar Baldeh, who also sells at the same Bakoteh market said the ‘saida’, ‘saaka’, ‘gest’ fishes are very costly fishes. He opined that the reason why fish is expensive in the country is because a fisherman would go fishing and spend days in the waters before catching the fish they need.
“So, when the fisherman returns with a good catch, the price will then rise up. Also, we (vendors) have no option but to obey and buy whatever we could afford,” he said.
He said after purchasing the fish they make extra expenditures – the transportation, ice-block and market fees.
“If you have a lot of fish, you need a lot of ice too. Sometimes you make a profit and sometimes you don’t,’’ he explained.