By: Kebba AF Touray
Scores of Gambian drivers have expressed satisfaction with the government’s decision to reduce fuel price during the trying times, as the executive strengthens efforts to contain and eradicate COVID-19 in the county.
They also called on the executive to do their utmost to ensure compliance and implementation of the move, without which the decision will just be a mere writing on a paper.
They expressed these views in an interview with the Foroyaa Newspaper on Friday 1st May 2020, to gain their reactions on the move to reduce fuel price in the country.
Basirou ceesay, a driver who plies Westfield- Brikama, via the Banjul- Brikama Highway, told Foroyaa that in this trying moment, the citizenry should practice precautionary measures to contain the further spread of the pandemic.
He explained: “This has compelled the authorities to come up with a directive for us to reduce the number of people we carry on our vehicles to half the capacity. This aims to protect our passengers and ourselves from the disease. So reducing the price of fuel will ameliorate the lost we would incur as a result of the measure taken by the authorities to take half the capacity of our vehicles”.
Abubcarr Dampha, another driver, who plies on Tippa Garage to Senegambia, road said “It is one thing to have a policy in place, but another thing to have it implemented. The reduction in price of fuel is a step in the right direction in view of the COVID-19 crisis we are currently battling with, but the authorities should do their utmost to ensure compliance and implementation”.
Kemo Sillah, a veteran driver at ‘Badala’ Garage in Basse, Upper River Region, expressed joy with the reduction, which he described as long overdue, adding that since the confirmation of COVID-19 in the country and the decision to reduce the number of passengers, the authorities should have equally reduce the price of fuel at that very moment.
Sillah noted the reduction in the price of fuel would mitigate the impact COVID 19 would have on their earnings.
He decried “Our problem is implementation of policies and decisions, so in that respect, I am calling on the executive to put in place monitoring teams throughout the county to ensure that fuel stations comply with the decision and implement it during this COVID-19 crisis”.
Omar Cessay, President of the Gambia Transport Association, said the move is appreciated and in the right direction that have come at the right time, adding that it is what they have for long been waiting for.
He said as of now they have not receive any complain in connection to the reduction but also implored on the government to do more reduction, to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the welfare and socio-economic development on the transport sector and the citizenry.
Cessay urged “I appeal to all and sundry, especially the drivers to put all hands on deck to fight against the pandemic. I also implore on the drivers to comply and implement the executive directive of taking half the capacity of their vehicles, as is meant to contain the further spread and subsequent eradication of Coronavirus in the Gambia”.
Readers would recall that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs has on Thursday 30th of April 2020, issued a press release stating that it has reduced the domestic price of fuel throughout the country.
As of 30th April 2020, the new prices stand as thus; Petrol D40 from a previous price of D49.36 per liter (a reduction of D9.36), Diesel reduced from D50.04 to D43 per liter (a reduction of D7.04) and Kerosene reduced from D41.35 to D30 per liter (a reduction of D11.35).
“The goodwill gesture aimed to ameliorate the cost of fuel on transport operators in light of the Presidential directive to limit the passenger capacity of commercial vehicles. Since February 2020, the government has made a cumulative reduction of D12.62 (25 percent). D11. 94(23 percent) and D19.23 (44 percent) on the price of petrol, diesel and kerosene respectively”, said the Finance Ministry.