VOA’s James Butty spoke to Gambian Transport Union president, Omar Ceesay, for more insight on the strike.
The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.
VOA: Tell us more about your commitment to continue striking as Gambian commercial drivers.
Ceesay: We had discussions with the Ministry of Transport about our member concerns between September and November of last year. In November, we reached an agreement with government about resolving some issues raised by members, among them was to reduce the Senegal-Gambia toll fee. The government has since failed to follow through on its promises. Members have also raised concerns over constant police check points where they report experiencing harassment and loss of revenue at the hands of authorities.
VOA: How accurate are the claims by government officials who deny imposing new tariffs on the Senegal–Gambia bridge?
Ceesay: It is true that they did not impose any new tariffs. However, the previous amount was already too much. We engaged them on this matter and called for a new reduced tariff, which is yet to be implemented.
VOA: What is the status of discussions with the government?
Ceesay: We have numerously attempted to address our concerns with government, but unfortunately have not received a response.
VOA: As workers are you not concerned about the impact of your strike on citizens?
Ceesay: As drivers we are also affected, and government must address our concerns. We have tried to reach out through letters and other means but have been unsuccessful.
VOA: How much longer do you expect the strike to last?
Ceesay: We will meet with several stakeholders to discuss how this matter must be resolved as we proceed. However, for now, we will remain on strike. We will update the public after consultations with other stakeholders.