The Senegalese government of Macky Sall has decided on Tuesday to close its border to the cashew export trade that has been going on for over a decade.
A Senegalese delegation from Dakar headed by the Senegalese Commerce Minister, Alioune Sarr, convened a meeting in Ziguinchor with local authorities, customs officials, transport unionists and stakeholders to discuss the new government policy.
Henceforth, cashew from the southern Senegalese region of Casamance will not be allowed to be transported to the port facilities in Banjul for export purposes. Speaking to the officials and stakeholders in the southern Senegal capital of Ziguinchor in Wolof, the Minister assured exporters full government support, including bank financing of their operations, to win their cooperation.
The port of Banjul, despite its less than ideal conditions during the Jammeh era, is still a relatively attractive alternative to the Dakar Port both in terms of distance from source and turnaround time. The operators, exporters and transporters favor Banjul to Dakar port for these reasons.
As expected, the Senegalese transport union is reportedly opposing the new policy which is seen as interfering in the basic tenets of the ECOWAS Protocol of free movement of goods and people.
Our sources are reporting that the transport union has refused to transport the cashew to Dakar because it is not profitable for them. They have also refused to transport the cashew crop from the bush if they the destination is Dakar and not Banjul.
Thus the Commerce Minister’s suggestion that the commercial banks will provide financial facilities for the operations is to make the new policy profitable for the transporters and exporters, according to sources. Time is neither on the side of the Senegalese nor on the Gambian governments because the cashew season commences next week.
The Gambian government is yet to make a pronouncement on what clearly is an attempt by Senegal to contravene ECOWAS Protocols on the movement of goods and people across Member State.
This development is one more reason for the Barrow government to move judiciously and with patriotic fervor to put Gambia’s interest ahead of personal or partisan interest first. We are to protect the family jewels from being sold.