(JollofNews) – A senior Gambia Government official has admitted for the first time that the ongoing border closure with neighbouring Senegal is costing the West African nation an arm and a leg.
Lamin Sanyang, managing director of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), which is responsible for managing and providing all necessary marine and harbour facilities, cargo handling equipment, storage and ferry services, said the government has lost millions of Dalasis within the past three months.
“While we cannot quantify how much revenue we are losing, we know very well that most part of our revenue, especially at the ferries in Trans-Gambia has declined from D9 million a month to D2.5 million a month since the border closure began,” Mr Sanyang said.
The border impasse began at the beginning of the year after Senegalese transport union, known by its French acronym, SNTTRS, boycotted the Trans-Gambia ferry crossing following the Gambia’s unilateral decision to increase ferry tariffs 100 times – from 4,000 CFA per truck to 400,000 CFA (£500; $700).
Senegalese transport union say no official explanation has been given and denounce the Gambia’s “unilateral decision”
which, they say, violates the West Africa regional block Ecowas principle of free movement of people and goods within the region.
As a result of the border closure, travellers and lorries between the southern Senegalese region of Casamance and the capital, Dakar avoid the shortest route that goes through the Gambia and are taking a 10-hour (420km) journey round the Gambia, via Tambacounda.
But as the Gambia has little income, the ports authority is keen to preserve the revenue the country earns from taxing travellers.
The ports authority boss said before the border impasse, the Gambia used to generate about D23 million a month at the Banjul-Barra ferry crossing which has now significantly declined in the past three months to D12 million, D13 million and D14 million.
“We are all aware that at least 60 or 70 per cent of the freight that is passing through the ports of Banjulgoes on transit to third countries by road,” Mr Sanyang told the Public Accounts and Public Enterprises committees of the Gambian National Assembly.
“Transit trade is seriously affected and as a port we are feeling the pain because we congested with containers that are paid for in other countries in the form of transit, and they are piled up at Banjul port.”a”unilateral e