Sep 25, 2012, 9:50 AM
The authorities need not wait until matters get out of hand before taking action against drivers who are ripping off commuters across the country.
The past few days have seen an astounding reduction in the number of vehicles on our roads. From the Coastal Road of Kartong to Brikama, Senegambia, Banjul and Westfield, traffic has been thin.
This is said to be as a result of the sudden police crackdown on unlicensed or uninsured vehicles, as well as drivers.
Countless commuters and business people have been stranded at various traffic points waiting for transportation that never seems to arrive or, if it does, the arrivals are few and far between.
Now reports have it that commuters are paying through their noses to get from Tabokoto to Banjul. According to the reports, the unconscionable drivers have broken a journey from Tabokoto to Banjul into three stops. The first stop is from Tabokoto to Westfield, the second is from Westfield to Old Jeshwang, and the third is from Old Jeshwang to Banjul.
Overall, commuters have to pay thrice the normal fare to get to Banjul, which is fifteen dalasis and thirty dalasis on a return journey. Poor civil servants who barely earn two thousand dalasis a month have to cough up six hundred dalasis for transport alone!
The same applies to the Westfield-Bakau route. The taxis ply from Westfield to Traffic Lights, then to Sabena and then continue on to Bakau. For each stop, a commuter has to pay five dalasis.
And with rent galloping in the country, civil servants and workers generally barely have enough income to feed on, much less take care of our pressing needs. The result is that they are always in debts, relying on the Fula shopkeepers to keep body and soul together.
The drivers have no excuse, much less a justification, to do what amounts to extorting money from commuters, going by the way they are doing things.
Though fuel prices have increased, drivers should not be so greedy, as no one can get more than what God gives you, no matter what you do.
At this point, the authorities must step into the matter. The Gambia National Transport Control Association should not just stop at issuing warnings, it should take practical steps to deal with drivers who flout its orders.
Besides, the government should revive a new public transport company, like the GPTC, to complement the operations of the green buses on the road, so that there should be more buses on the road to save commuters from the heartless exploitation of our drivers.
There is no doubt that taxi drivers are taking full advantage of the absence of an efficient system of public transport buses on our roads to milk commuters dry.
"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed."