Leaders of the Gambia Transport Union have expressed their disappointment at the prosecution of some 50 drivers in the aftermath of a roads boycott.
They are now blaming strike on a miscommunication between them and authorities, who they accuse of imposing new transport tariffs without exhausting talks.
Union leaders are now demanding that the police drop charges against the drivers, who have been granted bail at $1,250 (D50,000 dalasis) by a lower court in Kanifing.
“We are disappointed that our men have been charged instead of setting them free as we agreed with the security agents,” said Nfarama Saidy, the Union’s field coordinator.
“Still, some drivers are not operating and we are talking to them but cannot force them to work. The reduction is too much, 15 percent is too much.”
According to the union leaders, they were invited to a meeting with authorities but before talks could end, an official walked in and handed over a paper with the new fares outlined.
They said the meeting was not essential since the new tariffs were imposed on them without due consideration to their plights.
“We were not invited to take part in the decision-making and we feel farsighted out. Drivers felt marginalized because the government made their decision and imposed them,” Saidy added.
The police say the arrested drivers were obstructing traffic and engaged in violent provocation attacking drivers that refused to join their sit-down strike, allegations they deny.