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Published On: Thu, Dec 31st, 2020

Gambian Businesses Reflects 2020 & It’s Challenges

As the New Year 2021 rolls into the lives of people, our VOD reporter went round to seek the views of Gambians mainly engaged in services, buying and selling in the past year 2020. For many businessmen, they are of the view that high tariffs and taxes are responsible for the recent hike in prices of essential commodities and services in the country, whilst for others, the year was a very challenging year coupled with the emergence of the Covid19 pandemic.

 Abdoulie Njie owns a big tailoring shop at the Serrekunda Market with eleven young people working under him. He said the year 2020 was very challenging as the country was faced with economic hardship and security threats. The year 2020 he said was a sad year for the Gambia looking at what has happened, that many young people has been murdered while daily light theft and robbery continues to increase at an alarming rate. He said that the government needs to prioritize security knowing that the Gambia is a young populated country. The Market he said was very slow for them as tailors due to the fact that the living expense were so high  and that everyone was struggling to live as a result of the corona virus outbreak in the country in particular and the world in general.

He noted that hat his business operation depends entirely on NAWEC. NAWEC he said was very disappointing to him because the electric supply was very poor around the Serrekunda market where business is entirely electricity based.
The increase in electricity and water bills he said has threatened to shot many businesses in the year 2020.The year he said was a very trying moments for him because the government failed to keep their promise. According to him, there is no hope for him in the New Year 2021 as the covid19 continue to threaten the lives of people. He said that the country supermen are not concern of its citizen’s welfare. The Gambia he said is like any other country in the world where everyone can work to earn a decent living provided that the resources and environment are made available. He called on the young people to stay focus and engage in their lives, that the Government needs to be very concern in the interest of its citizens.

Ramatoulie Jadama a housewife, she said this country will never be good as far as the selling and buying is not control in the market, business people she blamed are selling a cup of rice at D6 while sugar is at eight, nine and ten dalasis respectively.

She expressed her disappointment with the government looking at all the promises they made. She also noted the impact of the covid19 in the lives of the Gambia. She said even the reduction in the price of flour and bread cannot be enforced in the year 2020. She called on the authorities to put measures on the promises they made and work towards ending covid19.

Abdurrahman Jallow of Latrikunda market for his part said that he owns a retails basic commodity shop but the year 2020 to him went out unexpected. Gambians and people resident in the country He said has experienced one of the most trying moments in their life time during the year 2020.The high cost of living in the country Jallow said is making living extremely difficult for average Gambians, especially those living below the poverty line. Whatever the case may be and whoever is responsible for the increase, our message is that Gambians are feeling the pinch of the problem. He called on the government to act on the cost of living for Gambians. This he said is mainly caused by the high cost of tax attached to goods in the market.

The business he said has been very slow and that several businesses have not been functioning well that some major shop owners have started relocating to other countries where business is running and duties are cheaper than The Gambia. Jallow noted that prices of daily necessities as food, water, electricity, are hiking and many families are already struggling under the unfortunate pressure of this rising living cost, while the prices of grocery products have continued to rise and that there is no hope that it will one day go down.
The government he said should review tariffs and taxes so that we regain the edge and competitiveness that The Gambia has been known for. They should act now before it is too late. He pointed out that business in the Gambia he revealed is not going on as expected with the new government. The high price on the selling and buying he said depends on the importation and taxes,“we are paying taxes, license, rent and all these expenses are very high”,he added.

He called on the new government to put price control in the market and reduce the high taxes laved on these good. The bag of sugar he said is one thousand four hundred and fifty dalasis D1375 which he said is very expensive for an average Gambian.

The pump price fuel in the Gambia has been on the increase despite the prolonged fall in price in the world market for crude oil which is said to have reduced to 40% early last year. However, despite this price reduction of fuel at the level of the international markets, the reduction in fuel price is yet to be realizing in The Gambia. Adama Khan Aged 29 is a taxi driver plying between Westfield and Senegambia.

Modou Ceesay a primary school teacher said the year 2020 problem was basics price commodities. He called on the government to look at the price of rice which is highly consumed in the Gambia. Gambians he noted cannot survive without rice. The price of rice nowadays she said is very high to the extent that some cannot afford it and all depends on these commodities for survival. Mot Gambian families she said are suffering because of the high price on rice and other basic commodities.

Buba Baldeh a PIU officer said the year 2020 failed as the need to review the export and import policies of basic food stuff and plan better. The year he said was very challenging for them looking at what they earn and how they struggle to spend it.

He said it is always difficult for him to even purchase a bag of rice for his family as a result of it high price of rice. Government he called should intervene and correct the prices in the market especially basic commodities and further look at the salary earned by the security men and women.

He said the year 2020 is regarded as the worst year for them as taxi drivers whose income entirely depends on the fuel price. He said that the reason why fuel prices keeps increasing in The Gambia remains unknown to them as main consumers. Commercial drivers has raised concerns over the public transport fare and the suddenly increase and decrease in fuel price. Most of the drivers who spoke to this reporter expressed disappointment to the authorities reflecting on what has happened in the past year. They assembled that reduction or increase in fuel prices should not be determine as a criterion for fixing transport fares because prices of basic human needs, engine oil, brake fluid, spare parts and other petroleum products continue to increase in the market.

The drivers remarked that they are working to take care of their families and take home something at the end of the day. They said that government should not force the commercial drivers to reduce fares when government cannot even provide good roads, that traffic congestion they said negatively affected their services. They assembled that the government has been very disappointing to their promises made to them as drivers.

Seedy Sey sells textiles at Serrekunda. For him, the year 2020 was a very good and thanksgiving year. He said that his business is moving in the right direction as the trend in fashion is so competitive. He said that he was able to open another textile shop for his brother at tipper garage and that the business is really moving.

Awa B Bah

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