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COVID-19: Kuntaur Area Council in Salary Dilemma amid Closure of Lumos

The chairman of Kuntaur Area Council, Saihou Jawara is worried that his council could struggle to pay staff salaries starting this March amid the suspension of lumos (weekly markets) in his area due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

He said they have already incurred the financial loss amounting to more than D100, 000 after missing the second lumo due to non-collection of revenues. 

“Since last week, we have not been getting any revenue from the lumos as a result of the COVID-19. This is really affecting the Council in terms of revenue collection from these weekly lumos,” he said.

Saihou Jawara

President Adama Barrow has declared the suspension of public gathering across the including the religious activities and the weekly markets (lumos) as a means of preventing the Coronavirus in the country. However, shortly after his televised statement on Tuesday evening, the health minister, Amadou Samateh also appeared on television to confirm the first case of COVID-19 in the Gambia. 

Jawara said: We have lots of expenditures to take care of and looking at the salaries that Council is paying to staff as well as the development initiatives the Council is currently embarking on. 

“At this time, it is really hard for us to deliver, even the payment of salaries is our major concern this month,” he disclosed. 

Lumos, being the weekly market is very important to the rural people as it’s when they would do their weekly shopping of food items and other needs. They are always crowded as sellers and buyers would converge from different areas, including Senegal. Jawara argued that its closure will affect the livelihoods of rural settlers.

Empty stalls on Lumo day amid the coronavirus

“It will have a severe implication on the livelihood of the rural people who entirely depend on lumos for the purchase of their weekly provisions. Right now, the rural people are in a very funny situation due to the ban placed on lumos activities. 

However, he considered the decision as something that is intended to keep their health safe from contracting the virus. He challenges the health minister to conduct a tour in the area to get first-hand information regarding their difficulties as well as their preparedness level.

Among problems he highlighted is the open borders where people who are leaving and coming into the country are not subjected to any screening as well as lack of access to radio to boost their sensitization. 

 “We are doing some efforts to sensitize our people by visiting communities and villages but the lack of radio stations and other media outlets in this part of the country is making our efforts difficult.” 

He said they forced them to entirely depend on the Senegalese radio station to send messages to their people in the Gambia.  

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