Photo Credit: Access GambiaPhoto Credit: Access Gambia

Written by: Malick Nyang (Journalism major, UTG)

One of the most useless unions in The Gambia is the Gambia Transport Union! Their board constitutes bunch of executive failures and selfish individuals who only think about themselves and their members!

I have never heard an instance where the Union releases a dispatch warning commercial drivers about reckless driving, poor treatment to commuters, bad conduct, unjustified fare increments e.t.c. The Union never address the too many accidents caused by their members. The Union never talk about the suicidal and retired vehicles that are tearing the good clothes of passengers and also the unprofessionalism, traffic rule ignorance, bad appearance of some of their members. However, any time an ant stings a driver, they think of sit-down strike. Strike upon strike upon strike. We are tired!

The union is doing nothing at all to help passengers but only act in favour of drivers at all times. The GTU Executive has constantly defended its members, but never did they try to chew over the plights of the commuters.

Are we (commuters) not important to the transport sector? Do you think drivers will feed their families without us, the passengers? No! Driver-passenger means business and therefore, we need each other and we have to cooperate. We cannot accept being the victims every time due to high fuel price and other challenges that we do not cause.

To GTU Executive: The fuel price hikes, you increase the fare, it hikes again, you increase the fare, it hikes again, you increase the fare. Now, who is dying here? Us (passengers)! The drivers also have to taste the “Hard Gambia” — passengers cannot take all the 100% hardship. So let’s share the pain. It is very unfair to commuters who will pay three different fares for the same journey every day to also encounter another fare increment on top of the already difficult situation. We will not accept it.

Passengers are not members of the GTU but we’re the backbone of your survival and without us, you’re nothing! Stop the one-sided treatment. You cannot talk about the welfare of your members, leaving their source of income (passengers) in detrimental situations. We (passengers) should be a thematic agenda on your every meeting because we matter a lot. The last time I check, you were complaining about the drivers’ license which should constitutionally expire every three years, contradicting the unconstitutional one year expiry date. While I am with you on that fight, the energy and research prowess that you spent to find that out, why can’t you use same strength to to investigate and solve the visible problems faced by your customers (passengers)? Sadly, you are zero percent good at satisfying us.

To Drivers: If you were earning D1000 profit a day and due to fuel price increment, you’re now having D500, please accept it. Because less than two years ago, we the passengers were paying D18 at most from Brikama to Westfield and now due to the same fuel problem, we’re paying 50-100 a day (many would pay that amount on a one-way journey). How much do you want us to be paying now, D150-D200 a day? Do you think we can do that compared to Gambian low basic salary? The thing is let’s share the pain together but we cannot take it all! If you cannot stand the hardship, then quit driving and look for another job. We have families to feed just like you do and we cannot spend all our salaries on fares!

If you want, don’t only stage a sit-down strike, stage a bend-down strike or lay-down strike! We don’t care! And, I hope that if you start it tomorrow, you don’t end it so soon. It is only then you will will understand who suffers the most! I’m not sure of your other demands, but may your fare increment demand never come true!

To Passengers: It might be hard despite the intervention of Ministry of Transport through GTSC and the Gambia police but let’s prepare and take the hardship once and for all! Let’s not allow this to be a lifetime menace on us! As the strike starts tomorrow, let’s capitalize on the GTSC buses, lifts, bicycles, ‘runger’ (trek), commercial drivers who will not take part in the strike and other means possible!

Malick Nyang

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