By Awa Touray / Mustapha Jallow
In fulfilling its consumer awareness mandate, officials of the Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (GCCPC), on 23rd February 2019, trained persons from the Gambia for Deaf Association (GADHOH) on consumer rights and protection.
The training centered on the Competition Act of 2007 (CA 2007) and the Consumer Protection Act (CPA 2014) of 2014 which together, aims to promote healthy competitive markets and enhance consumer welfare for the benefit of the economy.
Delivering his opening remarks at GCCPC head office in Kotu, Amadou Ceesay Executive Director of Commission highlighted the importance of GCCPC in competition enforcement as mandated by the CA 2007. “Our core mission under the Act is to make markets work well for the benefit of consumers,” he stated; that this was done through the promotion of competition and more of vigorous competition, to help all consumer, particularly for the most vulnerable, by giving businesses the incentive to supply goods and services at affordable prices and with better value for money. He further stated their second mandate which he said was Consumer Protection.
“The GCCPC is mandated under the CP Act 2014, to protect consumers from unfair and misleading market conduct(s),” he disclosed; that they established a Consumer Protection Tribunal to hear complaints and offer remedies to consumers in the event of a breach of the provisions of the Act.
“I was informed by my legal team that Section 31 of the 1997 Constitution, provides rights of the disabled to be included, and for the state and society to recognize and respect the disabled and handicap,” he cited; that they will collaborate with the hard of hearing association, by providing an outreach and experience support, needed to assert their Consumer rights.
For her part, Fatou Nyang, investigator at GCCPC, presented the Consumer Act of 2007 to persons with hard of hearing. In her presentation, she stated the importance of competition which she said ensures efficiency; that competition enhances consumer welfare and enables them buy a wide range of quality goods and services, at the least possible price.
She concludes by saying that the GCCPC is committed to offering its experience and resource to ensure that markets are competitive and consumers are treated fairly.
“Together we can create a level playing field and enhance consumer welfare,” she disclosed.
Yusupha Njai, a Consumer Protection Officer at GCCPC, also dilated on the Consumer Protection Act 2014; that the objective of the CPA 2014 is to protect consumers from unfair treatment and misleading market practices; that consumers’ rights include the right of choice, privacy and accountability from suppliers.
Dudu Loum, who spoke on behalf of the hard of hearing association, explained how they are discriminated at markets.
“Sometimes they make prices of goods higher for us because we are not able to hear anything that they say to us, when they speak. We are not considered by the public especially within market areas,” he said.
He called on officials of the GCCPC to look into the issues raised on their situation since they are also consumers and have the same rights like able bodied persons, which needs to be protected.
During the question/answer session, some members of the association were asked to lay down their complaints to GCCPC officials, and many of unfair prices charged on them because of their disability; that their cases are not recognized by the Police or Courts.
“We want sign language interpreters to be stationed at Police Stations across the country, so that we will not find it difficult when we lodge our complaints,” one member of the association suggested.
They also complained about GSM operators, who make communication difficult for them because they are unable to make proper video calls.
GCCPC officials promised to review their concerns.