By Nelson Manneh
The Gambia Transport Union has stated in a press release that seventeen trucks with Gambian number plates and one with a Bissau Guinean number plate have been released from security custody after been intercepted by the authorities of Guinea Bissau, with their cargo of timber (logs).
“Earlier in August 2023, the General Transport Union received information that some of our members transporting logs from Guinea Bissau to the Gambia, were intercepted by the authorities of Guinea Bissau. Upon receiving this information, our president Omar Ceesay, invited the drivers affected by this situation to gather first-hand information,” the General Transport Union indicated in their press statement.
“During the discussions with the vehicle owners, it was discovered that a total number of twenty vehicles were intercepted in Guinea Bissau with their loads of logs. Among the vehicles intercepted, seventeen of them are Gambian registered vehicles; two are Senegalese and one is a Bissau Guinean registered vehicle.”
The Union further reiterated the vehicles were impounded together with the logs they carried and the matter was sent before the courts for determination, with the potential to forfeit both vehicles and logs to the Bissau Guinean state, as may be determined by the courts in that country. To this effect, it says the Transport Union engaged the Gambian Embassy in Guinea Bissau through the Deputy Head of Mission H.E. Lamin Camara, and the union’s counterpart in Guinea Bissau, regarding the matter. It added that on Sunday 3rd September 2023, the union sent a delegation to Guinea Bissau led by the Gambia Transport Union President for a fact-finding mission. The delegation consulted with the Gambian Embassy in Bissau and Transport Unionists in that country, and it was disclosed that the matter was under in Court, and this was quite threatening to the livelihood of many families.
For this reason, the union said The Gambia Government through the Office of the President was involved on the 5th of September 2023, for intervention.
“The Government responded swiftly on the 7th of September 2023, by sending a high-level Ministerial delegation to Guinea Bissau for negotiations, headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, and an agreement has been made with the Guinea Bissau government for the release of the vehicles whilst a decision is made on the logs. The intercepted Gambian vehicles were released and have safely arrived in the Gambia on the 22nd of September 2023,” the release concludes.