By Landing Ceesay
The Traffic Unit of the Gambia Police Force has impounded 38 vehicles in the Kanifing Municipality (KM) and West Coast Region and accused their drivers of overcharging passengers.
The drivers of the impounded vehicles are accused of charging passengers D50 for trips from Westfield to Banjul when the newly published official fare guidance for that route is D14.
Some of the drivers that have their vehicles impounded were accused of charging passengers D75 for trips from Westfield to Brikama, and D30 for Westfield to Latrikunda. When the official fare published by the government for those routes is D30 and D16 respectively.
Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police, Muhammad Y. Darboe, the Assistant PRO of the Police, said the arrested drivers have been taken to court and are presumed innocent pending judgment on the cases on Monday.
“The new tariffs that have been released recently have made some increment in fares for one lower price or higher price. Unfortunately, this was used as a leverage advantage for commercial drivers to overcharge passengers, undeservedly.
“Our police operation which was born this past three days has impounded all of these vehicles that you can see here. The case has been arraigned before Kanifing magistrate court where it is mentioned and waiting for a judgment on Monday or thereabout. That is why you’re all invited here,” Assistant PRO of Police said.
Cadet ASP Darboe said at the level of the police they found the action of the drivers to be inappropriate, unjust, and quite reprehensible.
Cadet ASP Darboe further said the nature of the charges is “terrifying,” and “horrible” that the drivers can involve themselves in such “unfair” treatment of innocent passengers.
The Assistant Police PRO said there is an increment of fares from Brikama to Westfield from D25 to D30 in the new tariff, but the drivers double these amounts “illegally.”
“It is a recorded habit evidently by the drivers to tell the passengers that they’re stopping at Latrikunda. The new tariffs were so much considered. So that the drivers would not be disadvantaged. From Brikama to Latrikunda is charged the same price as Brikama to Westfield. So that it maintains at D30, So, that there is no stoppage, so that the drivers will not come and say they are only stopping at Latrikunda or passengers that are stopping there would pay an equal amount of money like those that are coming up to Westfield.
“Unfortunately, most of these drivers will claim that they are only stopping at Latrikunda. Then you pay your 30 dalasi an amount of money that you would have paid for Westfield, and then come and charge extra from Latrikunda to Westfield, and that will be 12 dalasi which is what it should be. But if you give them D15 they will not have change. This is unfortunate it means you’re paying D15. If you add D30 to D15 you are paying D45. If this is your situation, to and from you are paying D90. This D90 you multiply by 30 days, let’s say for a whole month you’re paying D2,700,” he said.
Cadet ASP Darboe described drivers overcharging of passengers as “horrible, unfortunate, and unacceptable.”
The Assistant Police PRO said as a law enforcement institution, they are not accepting the driver’s attitude of overcharging passengers.
“Let’s even give it a wider scope perspective, a true reflection of how a market woman or our employ youth, our people out there, what they face. Let’s say a driver is charging for D75 from Westfield to Brikama. Mostly associated with seven-passenger vehicles. D75 if you multiply that by two, we are paying D150 to and from. This D150 you multiplied by 30 we are paying D4500,” he said.
Cadet ASP Darboe said the driver’s behaviors is the height of “injustice and it is unacceptable.”
He further described it as “broad daylight robbery” by drivers and they are putting a stop to it.
Cadet ASP Darboe said as a law enforcement institution they are not compromising on the driver’s attitude.
“All drivers that are involved in this attitude of unfairly inflicting pain and robbing passengers undeservedly. We are hunting you down and we are making sure that the regulation is observed and respected,” he warned the drivers.
Out of the 38 impounded vehicles, 30 are from mobile traffic, 6 from Bundung and 2 are from Brikama.
The fate of the arrested drivers will be known Monday as the Kanifing Magistrate Court is set to deliver judgment on the case.