By Landing Ceesay
The President of the Gambia Transport Union, GTU, Omar Ceesay has said that the Senegalese authorities are not respecting the Protocol on free movement of goods and services put in place by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for member states.
He said that Gambia vehicles face serious challenges while entering the Senegalese territory due to ‘unjustifiable charges’ imposed on them which is against the protocol.
“Gambian vehicles face serious challenges to enter Senegalese territory by levying unjustifiable charges on Gambian vehicles such as PASS AVANT that last for only 10 days and as the ECOWAS PROTOCOL states that all member states are free to travel the sub-region without any discrimination. The Protocol states that all member state vehicles should stay in any country for a period of 90 days. But Senegalese authorities are only allowing Gambian Vehicles to stay for 10 days.”
Ceesay, also said that Senegal is making border crossing very difficult for Gambians, especially those in the cashew business in Guinea Bissau by blocking them from transiting through Southern Senegal to The Gambia.
“Another challenge Gambian vehicles are faced with entering Senegalese territory is that they restrain them by asking them the original ID card of the vehicle owners which is sometimes impossible because most of the commercial drivers did not own the vehicles, they drive that makes it difficult to access Senegal.”
The GTU President urged the government of the Gambia to engage Senegal to start implementing the MOU both countries signed on transport at the presidential meeting council in The Gambia, to ease access for commercial vehicles to boost each other’s economy.
“Gambia government started implementing the MOU by issuing permits to Gambian drivers who have interest to explore the market at various fees. We urge the government of the Gambia to re-engage their counterparts to make the signed MOU operational,” Ceesay told Journalists.
The ECOWAS Protocol on the Free Movement of People and Goods referred to by the transport union president, ensures free mobility of citizens of member states within the community. It confers on citizens of member states the right to enter and reside in the territory of any member state, provided they possess a valid travel document and international health certificate. However, the Protocol also allows member states the right to refuse admission to any citizens from its member states who were inadmissible under the member state’s own domestic law.