Traffic Deserted as Commercial Drivers Enforces Seat-Down Strike
The Gambia Transport Union has ordered its members to embark in a seat-down-strike on Monday in protest against the continuous restriction the government put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The other reasons that trigger protest include traffic challenges and uncomfortable garages.
In March, the government ordered commercial vehicles to only carry half of the required passenger number. But the recent waiving of certain restrictions including reopening of the markets, mosques and churches have created distress in commercial vehicle owners as they feel being discriminated by the government.
Consequently, the Transport Union hinted last week that commercial drivers will embark on a seat-down strike to show their dissatisfaction to the government.
Since morning, passengers including government and private sector workers, individuals have struggled to reach their offices and other destinations.
A petty trader, Fatoumata Balajo who visits Serekunda market on a daily basis to sell and to buy commodities, the decision taken by the commercial drivers has caused a negative impact on her business by disrupting her travel arrangement as well as causing her to pay more than the normal transport fare.
“Today is a very difficult day for me as you can see, I am finding it difficult to get a vehicle to go home and cook for my family. I spent more than one and half hours to get to the market because of the seat-down strike of the drivers. It made me pay more than three times the normal fare before I can get home,” Madam explained.
Fana Kah, a resident of Sinchu Alagie has also expressed shock about the situation.
“The situation is very unfortunate and brought lots of challenges to us petty traders because it comes with increment in fares which is very difficult for us. The businesses have severely dropped down. I want to appeal to the government to sit with the drivers and try to resolve this problem immediately so that life can go back to normalcy for workers and commuters,” Kah disclosed.
A driver met at Serekunda car park, Amadou Jallow has primarily blamed the government for neglecting the pleas of drivers in the country who have been confronting a lot of challenges both from the police and the commuters.
“We have been suffering for so long. We complained many times to no avail and now we are taking the bull by the horn by conducting a seat-down strike so that the government can do something to address our situation.
“All we are demanding from the government is to provide us with a garage as well as allow us to carry maximum passengers we’re registered to carry.
Amadou has expressed disappointment that the government has never given them the attention they deserve in resolving the matter.
A taxi driver Saihou Joof would normally plies along the Latrikunda German road has also reiterated the same problem.
“As for me, all I want to see is for the government to call for a dialogue with drivers so as to know their problems and find a lasting solution to all the irregularities happening in the traffic,” Joof opined.
A member of the Gambia Transport Union, Kalifa Keita, said they intend to force the government into discussion with them regarding challenges confronting their sector.
According to him, it is not intended to merely affect the commuters but a means of expressing their grievances to the authorities.
“I believe dialogue is the only solution to this problem and we are calling on the government to call for one if there is to be a way out in this situation. The situation is not about making more for drivers but rather for our problems of garages and control of the traffic within the country,” Keita observed.”