columnBy Alagi F. S. Sora
2011, 2012 has been a year of difficulties to many inhabitants of the country due to crop season failure. It is in this regard that this reporter consulted different people to share their experience with the people.Bukary Tarawally, a farmer from Wuli East,
explains the difficulties they have suffered due to crop failure encountered in 2011/2012 season. He said the most amazing thing is that they in the Wuli East heard the food aid supply from other constituents but said he has never seen any food aid in their district particularly in their village which is linked to the crop failure in the country. He said that this has affected them in the following crop season because most of them do not have any seeds to sow. He also opined that the said year was a failure for all so if there should be aid for the whole country then everybody should be treated equally without considering any political affiliation or any other issue of personal interests. He called the stake holders to consider fairness when it comes to aid distribution and there should be accountability.
Sutay Sanneh a student spoke at length and said that 2012 was a troubling year for him because he is from Sami; that the source of his school fees entirely depends on farming. According to him, he suffered a lot and the whole family did due to the last year's crop season failure. He said this has affected his school fees, lunch and the fares to and from school. He said he leaves for Brikama to Banjul each day but it was very tough for him. He said because he does not have any sponsor except his father whose main source of earning is farming and since last year cropping season was a failure, he suffered a setback in his education.He also explains the high cost of transportation from Brikama to Banjul. He said "I depend largely on lift because neither me nor my parents can afford to pay 50 dalasi each day. He therefore suggests for the Gambia government to endeavour to prioritise their spending on key areas like transportation. He said there cannot be any meaningful outcome in education if there is poor transportation network. He appeals to the country to help them with school buses or public transportation system; adding that the government should try to revitalise the Gambia public transport system (GPTC) to ease the transportation because they at least charge less than the commercial vans.Nyimasatou Sanneh, a student said she started bychallenging the ministry of Basic and secondary education to make the free education for girls a reality and they should also indicate it to them what level is enjoying the free Education. "I am very particular about what level is free education covering, because all I know is that we are paying school fees at the junior secondary school", Said Nyima. Nyima also challenged the concerned ministry to define free education for them and further urged them to also explain what level of education isfree in the Gambia and how?
A middle age woman was approached while selling baobab in the street. "I'm from the up country and am a widow and I have four children and three of them are going to school" The middle age woman was too emotional when she was explaining her situation during the year ending. She said she fetches fire wood, and engages in vegetable growing to feed her family and also gather fruits like baobab and "tallo" to be able to sustain the family. She said she is struggling for her children to be able to provide their need to attend school and other priority needs. She therefore calls on the state to come with strategies to be able to make life easier for the people.Meanwhile, a young man was met at Westfield roundabout named withheld, who intimated that 2012 was not easy for him at all. He said his profession is electrical installation but has never earned a salary because he never had employment, that he depends on this small contracts for a living. He said he called 2012 a difficult year because it is during this year that he applied for a visa to go to America or UK but was rejected.He further said he was frustrated until the time he heard that people are living for Libya for the reconstruction jobs as a result of the war. He said he decided to go. "I paid my fares to one bus company who takes people to Niger through Dakar and Mali to Niger",. He said they boarded a bus in Banjul but were intercepted by the Gambia Immigration at the border after Farafenni and according to him they were 40 in number but they were all apprehended and detained at the Immigration training school at Tanji for days before they were given bail, because he said the Immigration said they were travelling illegally.He narrates that "I have lost my fares and since then I am not working and survival is a most on anyone", said this young hustler.
He urged the immigration department, the ministry of interior, the ministry of youths and sports and the Gambia government to create jobs for the youths if they don't want them to travel to other countries for greener pastures. He finally said the authority should explain what makes it illegal for people to move from one African country even though the African leaders are calling for the unification of Africa.He said during the interrogation by the immigration, some of them were telling them that they have every opportunity in the country. So he asked; why are you travelling? He Said "I asked him what opportunities we have in the Gambia. He said the president's back to the land call cannot be a reality in as long as continued cultivation is limited to only Kanilai alone. He said he told him that yes it is true the president is calling for youths to go back to the land but "I also asked him to create facilities for us and see whether we will not go back to the land", Argued this young man. The young man who spent his 2012 to seek for greener pastures insisted: "I see the back to the land call as a concept than a reality". He said if they want the 'back to the land' call to be a reality, they should provide facilities to make the best use of our natural resources like the river Gambia, arguing that the river Gambia can eradicate unemployment in the Gambia and that will in turn lead to food self-sufficiency.Another young man name withheld said: "It is very disheartening for me to voice out with strong vigor, the constraints that I am currently facing. I am a teacher by profession and in fact a university student at the school of Business and Public Administration at MDI. As a teacher, i am currently working on double shift. This implies teaching both morning and afternoon shifts concurrently. It is well known concept that teaching is a noble profession and this state of mine is widely held by a myriad of people. The most interesting and funny part of it is that very few are willing to go in for the teaching profession because of the meager salary they receive after doing the herculean job of talking and writing from the morning to the evening", Said this teacher."I virtually live from hand to month as my meager salary is notsufficient to sustain my needs. Albeit being single, I still shoulder a lot of family responsibilities ranging from paying school fees for my younger siblings and giving allowances to my parents in the village to cater for their needs. This money is in fact not sufficient as the economic situation in the country runs through every fact of society", Said this anonymous teacher.The teacher said beside these responsibilities, he also grapples with his own personal needs and wants. He said the cost of commuting to work is increasingly becoming exorbitant and adding salt to injury, the landlords are increasing house rent in order to cater for their own expenditures.However, he said, this situation is acceptable from their perspective as we all visit the same markets or shops.The teacher opined that the year 2012 has inflicted pain and suffering on the people as we all wrestled with poverty; that it would be interesting to know that quite a lot of Gambians are living below the poverty line. He said the projected figure on economic progress does not seem to reflect the economic realities on the ground."Meanwhile, being a student at the university, my courses for the past semester were not registered as i could not afford to pay the tuition fees. This means my entire effort and sacrifice would go down the drain as my grades would not be published", Said this distraught student.In conclusion, he strongly implored the authorities to look into the economic situation of the country so as to design and initiatestrategies that would go the extra mile to address both the short and long term economic problems that we are all currently facing."The economic situation is deeply entrenched and hence can only be solved through persistent effort and thrive. Therefore, all hands must be on deck in order to rescue our dear country from the looming fangs of an economic tsunami", said a GTTI student as he narrates his ordeal during the year 2012 under review.