By Nelson Manneh & Mustapha Jallow
Passengers have over the weekend called on the government to engage the Gambia Transport Union and other players in the transport sector with a view to curbing the unregulated transport fares in the country.
Many passengers told these reporters that most commercial vehicles drivers have their own tariff and they used that tariff whenever there is scarcity of vehicles.
The Gambia Government early this year came up with a tariff, but it seems drivers have shunned that tariff and established their own.
Sirreh Sanneh, a resident of Coastal road, has called on the authorities to regulate the transport fares at the car parks especially the Serrekunda/Brikama car park. She said commercial drivers now take advantage of the COVID-19 and increases the fares anyhow they like.
Sanneh, who was paying D10 as fare from the Brikama car park to her home in coastal road, now finds it difficult to get access to vehicles.
“I sometimes pay D25 to D35 for vehicles to take me home. It’s unfair,” she said.
She said in the past days, she used to pay D25 or D20 to board a vehicle to coastal road. She described this act as “greediness” on the part of drivers.
Sanneh explained that whenever they ask drivers about the reason they increased fares, their responses were because of the hike in the price of fuel. She therefore called on the authorities to urgently look into this matter and address it as soon as possible.
Adama Saidykah, a resident of coastal road, also lamented the same. She said the conduct of drivers was affecting their lives.
“This is illegal. A driver cannot increase fares without the authority’s approval to do so,” she said.
She called on both the transport union leaders and the Gambia Police Force to investigate the cause of the fares increment.
Momodou Camara, who drives an 18 passengers van, said the increment in fares is not their fault. He said the government always increases fuel prices whenever they feel like without engaging them.
“There is no price control in all sectors that is why we as drivers are using our own vehicles to exploit the passengers. If the authorities want to stop the exploitation, let there be price control across,” he said.
Mr. Camara said in the markets too, there is no price control as vendors sell their good anyhow. Therefore, he said drivers will also continue to charge passengers any amount they deem fit.
Other drivers also shared similar remarks and blamed the government for not taking the lead in regulating all sectors.
Before going to press the president of the Gambia Transport Union was contacted, but he could not be reach for comment.