Members of the Gambia Transport, Food and Agricultural, Industrial Workers Union (GTFAIWU) are accusing the Inspector General of Police of meddling into their internal affairs, and therefore called on the IGP to stay away from the internal affairs of the union. Mustapha Jobe, acting President said instead of dealing with them as the Interior Minister advised, the IGP, has instituted what is called Banjul Transport Workers Association, which include the banned Gambia Transport Control Association, who are currently facing trial for alleged economic crimes committed.
Mr. Jobe said they had a meeting with the Interior Minister who advised them to work with the IGP, who then instructed his deputy to work with them towards revitalizing the sector that has been suppressed due the past authority’s divide and conquer.
He said for over 15 years, they were suppressed by the authorities who supported the GNTCA unjustifiably against union members. “Any time we wanted to stand for our rights, by trying to do our work, the police come and arrest our members. They supported the GNTCA until the transport workers in Bissau wrote to the former government exposing the economic losses the association causes to the country, leading to the banning of the GNTCA in April 2016.
“We have been blocked and prevent from working for about 11months now. This is among reasons why the Minister asked us to work with the police to remove the barriers tenable us work. But instead of working with us, the IGP is siding with an association created within a month, trying to coordinate the union. This is not fair,” said Mr Jobe.
Mr. Jobe said even some of their executive members are being used by the newly created association, and they are not given the union feedback.
He said the union has been operating for decades and is recommended by Government, nationally, regionally and internationally. “We had our Congress that was presided over by the IEC. Therefore it is wrong to say we are not recognized,” he said.
He called on the IGP to work with them and not to undermine their efforts, or trying to play divide and conquer games on them, as the situation was during the Yahya Jammeh era. He said they expect the law to take its course by asking Muminy Sey to pay the money he looted from the Drivers, as per the ongoing trial, but not to be backed by the police, by recycling him into their newly created association meant to again undermine the union.
Famara Saidy, GTFAIWU National Field Coordinator also reiterated calls for the IGP to stop meddling into their internal affairs.
“We have been operating for over 30 years. It is drivers who elected their leaders. The police cannot elect leaders for us.
“When we met with the Interior Minister, he told us that it is wrong for the transport sector to be halted for 11 months,” he said.
He further stated that after meeting with the Interior Minister, he directed that let them work with the IGP, who in turn instructed his deputy to work with them. However, he said the report advised for formation of “union body that will be recognized by the State with a view to controlling the day-to-day activities of the association as far as the transport sector is concern.” He added that contrary to such recommendations, the union has been working with Government, regional bodies, transport workers in other countries in the sub-region, as well the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Therefore, he said the police should have consider working with them to improve the conditions in the transport sector, rather than trying to undermine them by setting rival group.
He said the action of the IGP shows that he has vested interested by trying to support creation of another association that will undermine the union’s activities.
Written By A Correspondent