By Mustapha Jallow
Essa Drammeh, the Director of Planning at the Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure, has on Tuesday said the implementation date for the Gambia-Senegal joint Inter-State Transport Permit scheme which was due to commence on 15th March 2020, has been postponed till 29th March.
Drammeh added the two states had agreed to implement the ISTP on 29th March.
Drammeh explained: “There was a presidential council meeting in Senegal on the 10th to 12th March. During the experts meeting, we made a recommendation to the Senegalese ministers, which they agreed to and that is, for the implementation date to be on the 29th March.’’
According to him, the delay is from the Senegalese side as they are yet to issue permit to vehicle owners, but they promised to start issuing permit soon.
“So, we will still sit and wait, because – basically is like all the obstacles are now cleared. The guy at Karang who was restricting the implementation of this ISTP was part of the meetings. So, he gave us the assurance that they will accept the agreement,’’ he explained.
He added: “From our side also, the people of Barra were never interested in this thing but as we speak, some of them are here for their permit.’’
He said, “We are optimistic that it will go smoothly.’’
Drammeh said the status quo still remains, adding Gambian commercial vehicles are still restricted from crossing to Senegal.
He further explained, “There is no tension. The only tension comes when Gambian vehicles are trying to cross the border with passengers.’’
He added, “Currently the GTSC operates only one service and we agreed during the presidential council meeting that GTSC will now have a maximum of two services from Gambia to Dakar and Dakar to Gambia also two services.’’
Inclusion, he said there is political will on the part of the Senegalese authorities to come and ensure the smooth implementation of the scheme. He said the Senegalese minister of Transport and his Gambian counterpart will meet at the border to ensure that measures are taken for the smooth implementation of the ISTP.
The Senegalese transport minister was due to arrive in the Gambia on 4th March 2020, but cancelled his trip and went to attend a cabinet meeting focusing on the outbreak of the Coronavirus in Senegal.