17 April 2014

Gambia: Top GPA Officials Meet Senegalese Transport Union

Photo: allAfrica.com
A border town.

Four months ago, the Senegalese Transport Union announced its decision to close the border crossing points with the Republic of The Gambia, amid controversy that arose between the Senegalese drivers and the GPA officials over the tariff at the ferry crossing points.

Senegalese drivers have been conditioned to pay in foreign currency (i.e., basically in CFA Francs) instead of The Gambian Dalasis. This move was considered to be unfair by the Senegalese Transport unions which made them blockade the border between the two countries. The authorities of GPA on Sunday 13 April 2014 met with the Senegalese Transport Union at Kerr Ayib where they discussed how to resolve the issue of the border closure.

The meeting went on from 1.35 pm to 7pm. According to Mr Ousman Jobarteh, the Deputy Managing Director of GPA, the border issue is just like a buyer and a seller. They have to agree on what benefits both parties. Mr Jobarteh said they have decided to reduce the payment from 15,000 francs CFA to 14,000 francs CFA, and that the borders should be reopened with immediacy.

He further said they were authorised to increase the tariff at both the Trans-Gambia and the Banjul/Barra ferry crossing points, adding that they are demanding CFA as it is the medium of exchange for importation of goods from Senegal.

This, he said, is the reason why the GPA charges in CFA currency, as it would be injected back into the Senegalese business industry. He also noted that if they charge them in Dalasi and then convert it to CFA currency, when importing goods they would experience difficulty.

According to him, their source of getting the CFA currency is through the crossing points. He also pointed that about 90% of their customers are Senegalese, which has also led to the decrease of the tariff from 15,000 to 14,000 francs.

Mr Alassane Ndoye, Secretary General of the Senegalese Transport Union, for his part, said the two countries have been together since none of the delegates was born, and this, he said, should continue to nurture in furtherance of their mutual interest as they are all Senegambian people.

He further said the border was closed unanimously after consulting all the stakeholders in the transportation industry in Senegal. He said the GPA did impose on them a tariff they could not afford and to pay it in CFA currency.

This, he said, is what has led to the closure of the border four months ago. Mr Doye said since it was not their decision but that it emanated from the GPA, they have agreed to pay in CFA, and was quick to add that the 15,000 CFA, which is being reduced to 14,000 thousand, is still too expensive.

He said he could not unilaterally agree to the said tariff to avoid being blamed by his people for such a decision. He however said they could afford 11,500CFA instead of the 14,000 CFA.

The two delegations did not come to terms but look forward to meeting again to settle the matter.

He concluded by urging the GPA to reduce the tariff, as it is expensive

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