A communiqué issued by the Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure has indicated the commitment of the Senegalese government and mapped out the steps to be taken to resolve the Amdalai/Karang border crisis.
The communiqué makes reference to the Interstate Road Transport Agreement which was signed in 2018 and launched on 20th January 2020. Now the focus will be to deal with the technicalities to pave the way for the implementation of this agreement on 15th March 2020. In this regard, the minister responsible for transport in Senegal will visit Gambia on 5th March for meetings and joint sensitisation.
The full text of the communique is as follows:
His Excellency Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal reaffirmed that Senegal will respect all the protocols on trade and transportation and instruct his ministers of Transport and Interior to liaise with their Gambian counterparts to remove all barriers to free movement of persons and goods between Senegal and Gambia. This was in response to the special envoy from The Gambia, Dr. Momodou Tangara, Minister of Foreign Affairs on 20th February, 2020.
Consequently, Hon. Bai Lamin Jobe Minister of Transport, Works and Infrastructure, led a delegation to meet his counterpart Minster of Infrastructure, Land Transportation and Decentralization of Senegal, Mr El Hadj Oumar Youm, on the 25th February, 2020 in Dakar, Senegal to ensure that all bottlenecks to the operationalization of the Interstate Transport Cooperation between the two countries are removed. The mission to Senegal therefore was to finalize the technical aspects that are hindering smooth implementation of ISTP.
The Interstate Road Transport Agreement was signed between the two countries in March, 2018 and its implementation launched January 6th 2020. However, the Karang Transport Union sector of Senegal continues to block unfettered implementation of the ISTP, and threatened the gains made in integrating our two countries and people as symbolized by the opening of the Sene-Gambia Bridge.
The Ministers agreed as follows:
• Recognized the significance of the road transport agreement signed between the Gambia and Senegal in March, 2018 and related protocols;
• Reaffirm the crucial role of Inter State Transport between the two countries in enhancing free movement of people and goods as stipulated in the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of people and goods;
• Committed to the operationalization of ISTP and will take measures to ensure its implementation;
• The Senegalese Minister to engage the Karang Unions that do not support the interstate transport to understand the importance of implementing ISTP and to adhere to the principle of the ISTP;
• The authorities to engage all unions and border officials to refrain from harassing Transport operators on the transport corridors;
Accordingly, the Senegalese Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Decentralization will engage the mayor of Karang on Tuesday 3rd March 2020 for the Unions in Karang to accept the operationalization of ISTP.
• Both Ministers agreed that Sunday 15th March, 2020, to be the new date for the implementation of ISTP; which henceforth will be celebrated on annual basis as part the Senegambia calendar of events;
• To continue the sensitization of all the stakeholders especially those at the five corridors indicated in the Road Transport Agreement, 2018
• The Senegal Minister agreed to come to Gambia on Thursday 5th March, 2020 as part of joint sensitization and to further discuss the issue.
Meanwhile the Basse Transport Union has indicated that they have not experienced the same problems at the territorial borders at their end and that their relation with the transport unions is cordial. See next edition for a report.