Justice Minister Justifies Regulation of Essential Commodities


By: Kebba AF Touray

The Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambedou on Friday clarified that the restriction of essential commodities, was to protect Gambians at minimum from opportunist, who would hike the prices of basic commodities that the citizenry will need to survive.

He said this at the Parliament on 3rd April 2020, during a debate for the extension of the state of public emergency to 90 days, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

He said: “If you look at the list of essential commodities, they are 99.9 percent of food stuff and the reason is because we want to protect that food. We have identified the essential food commodities, so that they will be protected from hoarding, re-export and price hikes. All of that is for the benefit of the people of this country”.

He said the restrictions on public transport would be a challenge that will hit hard the entire sector. He said the ultimate objective was to restrict movement, but only for the most essential services.

He remarked: “These regulations are the first of many that are going to come before the Legislators and they were swiftly done to control the spread of the virus for now. They will be amended and revised, but other regulations will also come to regulate every other aspect of life in this country”.

Minister Tambedou added that all that Government was asking for was the extension of the state of emergency for 90 days.

He noted: “We have heard you for the 45 days. We will leave with that, but what we want is to buy time to stop the spread of this virus. If 45 days is going to be enough for us, we will take it. If it doesn’t when we get there, we will cross the bridge”.

Minister Tambedou clarified they were not proposing a lockdown, because they understood the competing interest between the need to prevent the pandemic from taking hood in this country and allowing the people to live with minimal disruptions to their lives.

He said: “That is why we are calling for this state of emergency to be extended. It will allow the government to put the restriction in the form of regulations, which in our views are the dearest minimum that the government can provide to protect the people from getting the pandemic”.

He said the restrictions were the minimum protections, but they had safeguards and three of the four regulations that were presented before the Lawmakers for affirmation, were to restrict movement to prevent infection.