By Nelson Manneh
Passengers have urged the government to fully implement the new traffic route licensing scheme first, before implementing any new transport fares across the country.
This reporter yesterday visited some car parks and engaged both drivers and passengers on the issue of the proposed increment of transport fares meant to be implemented on 20th January 2023, as indicated by the Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure.
“We are yet to see the new tariff but whether it is reasonable or not, the authorities should make sure that drivers abide by the new traffic route licensing scheme. It is very unfair for someone to pay more than three fares from Brikama to Westfield,” commuters told this reporter.
Binta Camara, a vendor who sells at the Serrekunda market, said she travels from her residence to Brikama daily to buy vegetables and resell them at the Serrekunda market.
“I face a lot of challenges especially at the Brikama car park, where only few drivers will take passengers directly to Serrekunda. Sometimes I pay D50 from Brikama which is very expensive,” she said.
This vendor said that the new fare tariff that Government is coming up with, is not the solution to the ongoing problems that passengers face.
“We were expecting the government to first come up with the traffic route licensing scheme and later come up with a new fare tariff scheme,” she said.
Michael Jatta, a student at the Gambia College, said it will be disastrous if the government increases fares and drivers fail to comply with the new traffic route licensing scheme.
“The government is putting the cart before the horse. They should have first introduced the new traffic route licensing scheme and later increase fares,” he argued. Mr Jatta said it is much easier for commuters to comply than drivers, noting: “I saw some vehicles with stickers attached to them, and when I inquired, I was told that the stickers show the different destinations of vehicles but drivers are not respecting this rule because they keep plying everywhere.”
The government on Monday 16th January 2023 indicated that transport fares for all official routes across the country will be increased, effective 20th January 2023.
The transport fares increment, according to the Government, will be followed by the introduction of new tariffs, route licensing for various destinations across the country. Route licensing is a scheme that allows vehicles to register and ply a particular route.
The main objective of introducing a route licensing scheme is to eliminate the charging of double or triple fares for one destination.
Lamin Darboe, a van Driver, said commuters should understand that the fare increment is as a result of the huge increment on fuel prices.
“The government increased fuel prices several times last year, in fact they keep increasing almost every three months which is not fair to us as drivers,” he said.
Mr Darboe said drivers will comply with the traffic route licensing if it matches the new fare scheme.