Mr. President, there is a need for you to talk to your Senegalese counterpart President Macky Sall about the obstacles which exist in the transit trade for traders from neighbouring countries; namely: Mali, Guinea Bissau and Guinea Conakry coming to buy goods or petroleum in the country.
They face a lot of problems when coming to The Gambia or going back via transit in Senegal.
Many transporters have complained to The Point newspaper about the delay of paper works by Senegalese custom officers and the paying of unnecessary charges for their goods at Karang or other borders.
Mr. President, this problem should be addressed forthwith because the ECOWAS protocols for free movement of goods and people should be respected and honoured by all member countries.
Gambians and Senegalese should respect each other and work in harmony for a common goal. We should show an example to neighbouring countries and Africa at large.
Customs officials of the two countries need to trash out any problem and move forward.
Mr. President, transit trade is Gambia's third foreign exchange earner after agriculture and tourism, that's why the problem of the transit trade should be regularised immediately.
Ramadan is also less than one month away and neighbouring countries will come to the Gambia for their shopping.
Mr. President, one of the main challenges transporters face in transit trade is that Senegal tries to limit the amount and types of goods that should be transited from The Gambia with respect to petroleum products.
The Senegalese authorities want to give Gambian businesses authorisation or limits whenever they want to have transit petroleum products to Mali. This is not acceptable because The Gambia is a sovereign state and as a member of ECOWAS, should enjoy ECOWAS protocol agreements.
Mr. President, it has been more than two years since the Senegalese refused to allow the transit of cashew nuts from Guinea-Bissau to The Gambia without any justifications.
Furthermore, many a time the other transits and re-exports goods from The Gambia to a 3rd country on transit via Senegal always face numerous problems before they are released; Senegal and The Gambia are one people, therefore some of these non-tariff barriers on trade should not be encouraged between the two countries.
Mr. President, it was decided in 2017 that you and President Sall should be meeting every six months with your officials either in Banjul or Dakar.
It has only happened twice. The plan should continue to trash out any difficulties that both countries face. The Senegambia secretariat should be efficient and always monitor complaints between the two countries and address them. The two governments should introduce domestic flights with reasonable air ticket fees to promote tourism and trade.
Finally Mr. President, Gamcel, the national GSM should be bailed out financially by the government and buy more equipment to improve their networks which has made them lose many customers. Government should revamp the company to acquire modern equipment for their services.
They have lost the grip on the market and they face tough competitions with Africell and Q cell. Gamcel needs to be restructured and invite the private sector to buy 50% shares.
It is not normal for both Gamtel and Gamcel to lose their customers and face very serious financial problems to boost their services. They are national assets and something should be done before it is too late.