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Senegal-Gambia border, other issues top assembly adjournment debate

Apr 11, 2011, 2:11 PM | Article By: Lamin B. Darboe

Members of the National Assembly on Thursday winded-up their first meeting in the 2011 legislative year with expressions of concern over the current situation at the border between The Gambia and Senegal.

Some weeks ago, vehicles with Gambian registration numbers were not allowed to cross over to the Senegalese side, and vehicles with a Senegalese registration number not allowed to cross the border to the Gambian side.

First to raise concern over the issue, during the adjournment debate on Thursday, was Hon. Baboucarr Nyang, Member for Banjul South, who described the situation as 'serious', considering the geographical location of the two countries.

According to Hon. Nyang, the current situation has really affected the business sector, noting that relations between the two countries should be cordial in the interest of peace and stability. "The current situation should be a concern to the people of the two countries, as this has really affected the business sector," Nyang said.

Hon. Suku Singhateh, member for Lower Baddibu and also an ECOWAS parliamentarian, said the matter should be tabled at an ECOWAS level.

According to him, the issue of border closure between The Gambia and Senegal should be totally discouraged because, as he put it, it is not in the best interest of the people of the two countries.

"Hon. Speaker, when the two countries close their border, ECOWAS should step in for discussion, but the discussions should not be limited to the two countries alone, so that it would not be repeated in future," he said, adding that ECOWAS is not encouraging border closure by its member countries.

"In fact, ECOWAS is encouraging free movement of goods and people between member states," Hon. Singhateh added.

The minority leader and member for Kiang West Hon. Momodou LK Sanneh, who also contributed to the debate, expressed his concern over the recent ferry problems in the country and issues relating to school buses.

The ferry service is one of the most important areas, when it comes to revenue generation in the country and, thus, every measure should be put in place to avoid unnecessary problems, especially between Banjul and Barra.

The minority leader further noted that the issue of school buses in the country remains a cause for concern, as students from Brikama are seen on the highway as late as 11am looking for transportation to get to school.

This, he added, is an issue that the government should consider as a necessity, as the students are the future leaders of this country and their plight should be taken seriously.

"If government cannot address this situation, I think they should look at a way to partner with those that can be able to look into the school bus issue for students," he declared.

Hon. Netty Baldeh of Tumana and Hon. Babanding KK Daffeh of Kiang Central all expressed concern over the recent transport fare increase.

Other speakers who contributed to the adjournment debate included Hon. Mattar Kujabi Member for Foni Bondali, Mam Cherno Jallow, member for Upper Niumi, Hon. Yahya Whan of Nianija, Kalifa Jammeh Member for Bakau and Hon. Bafaye Saidykhan member for Jarra East.