Pa Nderry,

The Senegalese Government has decided that it will no longer allow cashew sourced in the Casamance region of Senegal to be transported to The Gambia for shipment through the Banjul Port. This decision was confirmed on the 7th May 2018 by the Senegalese Commerce Minister Mr. Alioune Sarr at a stakeholder’s meeting held in Ziguinchorr attended by the region’s governor, Customs officials, Port operators, security services and private cashew operators.

This decision is a slap in the face of President Barrow’s desire to cultivate a close relationship with our bigger neighbor. It is hardly the best way to help a country emerging from 22 years of challenges by blocking its main economic activities. Firstly, it was the stoppage of the timber trade and now the cashew trade. Heads are spinning at the Gambia Port Authority and Gambia Revenue Authority at the prospect of losing its biggest revenue stream.

Apart from the Government revenue to be lost, this is the time when road transport is at its best, but you only have to visit the Abuko truck garage to see the many parked trucks having no economic activity to be involved in as a result of the decision.

It is bad signs in our relationship that a Gambian company can buy cashew in Cassamance but is not allowed to transport it to Gambia for shipment. What happened to the many signed protocols on free movement of goods and services including the ECOWAS protocols and the recently signed Karang declaration.

The Senegal Government need not put any border closures to force companies to use the Port in Ziguinchor. All it needs to do is to make the port efficient and competitive as business people will always go for efficiency.

From a concerned Citizen.

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