By Muhammed L Bojang
The Spokesman of Truck Drivers Association, Gibril Manneh, has said the Senegalese Forces station at Bwiam have impounded 15 Gambian trucks for transporting charcoal, firewood, white timbers and other non-forbidden forests products.
The Spokesperson for the local Truckers Association within kombos said people are now buying a bag of charcoal for D300 because the Senegalese soldiers are blocking the chain of supply at Bwiam in the West Coast Region.
“The Senegalese soldiers are seizing and offloading vehicles with the believe that all products from forests are from Cassamance region as if the Gambia has no forests,” the Truck Drivers Association Spokesman stated.
Speaking to this reporter via a telephone interview, Mr Manneh said they (truckers) came together to form this local association within Kombo to help each other in terms of need and they have made it clear to their members to abide by the laws of the State and should do away with anything banned by the state. He commended the members for not only adhering to their rules but also sticking to the licenses issued to them by the Department of Forestry.
“We pay Royalties, Duty Taxes and Licenses to the Government of The Gambia to buy, sell and transport white timber, charcoal, firewood and the Senegalese Soldiers are offloading and seizing our vehicles and we would not get our products nor our vehicles and most of the drivers are the ones feeding their families and vehicle owners families from day to day,” Mr Manneh lamented.
He claimed that many families are depending on these vehicles for their livelihood as the seizure of the vehicles and products would deny them livelihoods.
“I asked the Department of Forestry at Brikama to tell us the reason for paying licenses if it cannot guarantee us to operate in this country,” he said.
Manneh has recounted the case involving over 15 people who were charged and fine by the Brikama Magistrate court for transporting 1-metre Rosewood and they all paid their fines and the Court ordered the transfer of the Rosewood to the Department of Forestry and up to date, they refused.
Meanwhile, he said the Regional Forestry Director promised to appeal to the Magistrates Court to forward the case to the high court, perhaps that would help to recover the seized items from them.