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Gambia: Gambians Protest High Water, Electricity Tariffs

Team Gom Sa Bopa on Saturday staged a protest against the recent water and electricity tariff increment by the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC).

The civil society organisation describes the increment as unjustified and uncalled for to Gambians, while it also accused the nation’s only water and Electricity Company of not following due process as mandated by law.

The protest was backed by Gambians from all walks of life, as well as the young and the old, with protestors carrying banners with inscriptions: ’27 Years of Unaffordable Water and Electricity, Enough is Enough’; ‘Bring Back Our Cash Power Tariffs’; ‘Our Sovereignty is at Stake’; We Can’t live on with NAWEC’s Tariffs’; You Can’t Exploit us to Pay Senegal’; ‘Cash Power Serr Taleh and Cash Power Bi Kom Ngelew’.

Addressing the gathering, the president of the movement, Ali Cham, popularly known as Killa Ace, said: “We are only here for one mission; we are here in peace only to show the Gambian people and everyone involved that the 37 percent rate is too high. When you buy 1000 dalasi, you get about 600 and something dalasi. You lose about 370 dalasis. A cash power that used to keep you for 3 days, now only lasts for a day and a quarter.

“This is bringing about problems in households, because you would send your child for cash power, and after just one day, it finishes, but you will think that it is your child who has eaten the money. It is almost bringing about problems in marriages, nearly bring about divorce.”

According to Mr Cham, even before the 37 percent increment, Gambia’s tariffs were the sixth most expensive in the sub-region.

“That is why we say it is too high. We came as concerned Gambian citizens to ensure that Gambians know that this is not about politics; it is a Gambian affair, the plight of the Gambian. We must know national issues and personal issues. We are all affected, whether it is the poor, the rich, the police officer, the ghetto youth, the groundnut vendor, the office worker, the bank manager, Muhammed Jah, Saul Frazer or anybody.”

Rights activist Madi Jobarteh called for the continuance of the protest in different ways for over thirty days until the one month the civil society had given NAWEC to respond “comes to an end”.

“We have to build on the protest in different ways every day to make Gambia government realise that they will have consequences if they fail to perform. So Gambians, it is in your hands. This country, we are tired,” he said, adding that after 50 years of independence, with loan upon loan, grant upon grant and project upon project; taxes and tariffs continue to increase.

Tijan Jow, also an activist, stated that they would give NAWEC one month to respond.

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