Senegalese Customs reportedly impounds Gambian vehicle, demands CFA 2M

Senegalese Customs reportedly impounds Gambian vehicle, demands CFA 2M

Senegalese Customs Officers at Poste Kelimanganda, near the Gambia border around Kaur in the Central River Region (CRR north) have reportedly seized a Gambian vehicle: “Mercedes Benz C-Class” with the registration number BJL 8463 Q belonging to Omar Sowe, a native of Simbala village in the Lower Saloum District of CRR, The Point has been reliably informed.

The customs officers are reportedly demanding payment of “two million CFA” which is equivalent to over two hundred thousand dalasis.

The Mercedes Benz was allegedly seized by the customs officers amid the driver’s failure to produce the “vehicle port clearance document”. The incident was reported to have occurred last Thursday 4 January 2024.

The driver claimed that despite having all his necessary documents ranging from his driver’s licence, insurance with CEDEAO clearance and authentic transfer document of the vehicle among others, the Senegalese customs officers still insisted that the vehicle would not be released unless he (Sowe) pay a fine of two million CFA for failure to produce his port clearance document.

The driver Omar Sowe, who was speaking with The Point in an interview, said: “This is the first time I am being asked to produce port documents while crossing the Gambian border to Senegal. It is so unfortunate that they have to seize my vehicle. In fact, I want to let you know that I am not the only driver who suffers from this malpractice in the hands of Senegalese authorities. There are other Gambian vehicles that are also currently impounded by the said customs officers,” he divulged.

Further explaining how the incident happened, Sowe added: “I was going to Touba in Senegal together with one of my friends, Ali Jammeh. In fact, Ali Jammeh was the one driving. When we arrived at the said poste, the Senegalese customs officers stopped us and asked us to produce our documents of which we did.”

“We produced all the necessary documents. Again, the customs officers decided to even scan the vehicle’s chassis number and the sticker, which was on top of the windscreen of the vehicle and found that the entire documents were in order. Surprisingly, one of the officers asked us to produce the port clearance document. I was surprised and I told him that this had never happened before, thus he told us that the vehicle will not go.”

“We even paid the ‘lassez pass’ document at the Senegalese border. This should tell you that the vehicle is clean and it’s not involved in any fraudulent activities. If we were involved in some illegal activities, we won’t have passed through the Senegalese entry point where all our information was recorded?

“The customs officers told me that my vehicle will be impounded for three months after which it would be sold if I fail to produce the port clearance document. I spent the entire day at the border trying to get my vehicle but to no avail,” he posited, while urging the Gambian authorities to intervene as many drivers encounter similar problems at the hands of the customs officers at the said border.

Omar Ceesay, the President of the Gambia Transport Union (GTU), who was contacted for comments on the development, said: “This is not the first time we have been receiving complaints from the Gambian drivers about the conduct of the Senegalese customs officers on similar issues. However, I want to let you know that this is against the transport agreement between The Gambia and Senegal.”

“The act from the Senegal customs officers is unlawful and it’s against ECOWAS free movement – Article 5. Asking for a port clearance document after the said driver produces all the authentic documents has never been part of the agreement between The Gambia and Senegal in the transportation sector,” Ceesay clarified.

How can you go to vote and you’re asked to produce your passport,” he queried.

Meanwhile, efforts to speak to the Senegalese customs officers proved futile as they declined to speak.   

Source: The Point       

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