The Vice President and Minister of Women’s Affairs, Isatou Njie-Saidy, Friday on behalf of President Yahya Jammeh commissioned a fleet of 50 new buses to kick-start the operations of the newly-established Gambia Transport Service Company (GTSC).
Purchased by the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC), the new buses were said to have been specially assembled for this country by Ashok-Leyland, one of the most reputable bus manufacturing companies in the world.
The initiative, lauded by many, is widely expected to reduce the transportation difficulties encountered by the public, especially students around the country.
In her statement at a ceremony held at the July 22 Square in Banjul, Vice President Njie-Saidy, underscored the importance of a public transport system, which she said cannot be overlooked in our efforts to bring about national development.
‘A public transport system is an important agent that hastens the pace of development, and serves as a catalyst to other development endeavours,’ she said.
According to her, overall it is critical in our efforts at reducing poverty as it provides a relatively cheaper means of moving goods and services to and from markets, especially for low-income earners.
‘This is why my government which is ever committed to the welfare and well-being of Gambians requested the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation to work with my office to establish a public transport company which is efficient, reliable, and offers affordable service,’ the Vice President noted.
VP Njie-Saidy stated that the new transport company will not only bring relief to the travelling public, especially low-income earners and students, but will also generate a lot of employment opportunities directly and indirectly.
The economic benefits, she added, are huge in terms of the number of people who stand to benefit, from the General Manager right down to the fruit and other food item vendors who would be commuting with the buses.
The Vice President went on to say that although it is a public company, Government expects GTSC to operate on a purely commercial basis not only to cover running costs, but to realize a reasonable return on investment to allow the company to grow.
Government, she added, will continue to respond to the needs and aspirations of Gambians because the people of this country deserve the best, and government will not rest until the goals it set in Vision 2020 are achieved.
She commended the Board of Directors and the Managing Director of Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation for their foresight in making this noble and worthy investment, which demonstrates their commitment to the socio-economic transformation and empowerment of the good people of The Gambia.
Edward Graham, Managing Director of SSHFC, said the mission of the SSHFC is to contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development of The Gambia bearing in mind that if this is achieved, jobs will be created, revenue will be generated and there will be a flow of social security contributions back to the institution which will be protected.
According to him, the reason for supporting this investment is very simple and clear, because every sector and segment of the Gambian society is protected and shall be protected, noting that effective and efficient transportation system in the country will impact positively in the economic growth of this land.
‘This new company if properly managed will provide access to reliable and affordable means of transport from here in Banjul right up to Basse; this company will generate economic results such as sales and taxes which will create job opportunities for many people in the transport sector and access to job opportunities in other sectors of the economy,’ Graham stated.
Noting that efficient and effective transportation brings about a drastic reduction of lateness at work and improve attendance at school, Graham stated that all these things and more are in line with the objectives of PAGE, and will reduce poverty and enhance growth.
Other speakers included Bhismasena Rau, resident director Ashok Leyland.