I welcome the increment in transport allowances for the civil servants in the 2018 budget. This is long overdue as there has been no increment in salaries which are the poorest in the sub-region. Salaries in the Gambia are so low that it is virtually impossible for someone to live a decent life with it. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why we see corruption seemingly on the increase.

Thus, when it was announced in the 2018 budget that there will be an increment in the transport allowances, civil servants received it with joy and some form of contentment. However, the distribution is very unjust and should be revisited. According to the current distribution format, civil servants of Grade One through to Grade Nine receive a transport allowance of D1500 (one thousand five hundred dalasis); those in Grade Ten receive an amount of D2000 (two thousand dalasis). Directors, deputy permanent secretaries, permanent secretaries receive D8500 and D10, 000 (ten thousand dalasis) respectively.

One can see that this is far from being just and equitable. One can understand that there cannot be equality as the responsibilities vary very much from one civil servant to the other, but there can – and has to be – equity in the increment. Transport is transport whether one is an ordinary civil servant of Grade Three or a deputy permanent secretary of Garde Twelve, they both use the same means of transportation. They pay the same fares if they don’t have a car or buy the same amount of fuel if they do.

It is unfathomable therefore that there is a three hundred and twenty-five percent difference between those in Grade One to Nine and those categorized as directors, deputy permanent secretaries and permanent secretaries. For instance, we know that some senior masters in schools and principals are in Grade Twelve, but they do not enjoy what those categorized as directors, DDPSs and PSs enjoy. All these are civil servants and their work is as important to the nation as the work of the others. Why then do some civil servants receive two thousand and others receive eight thousand dalasis? This is a form of injustice that has to be addressed immediately!

No nation can develop without the input of the ordinary workers. It is the ordinary workers that generate the income of the nation, generate the goods and services to be utilized by the citizens and thus, they deserve to enjoy the fruit of their labour to the fullest. The top officials cannot – should not – be allowed to formulate policies which are only for their own benefits to the detriment of the common man. It is high time we recognized the contribution of these people and treat them equitably, if not equally. The alternative is a recipe for instability. As it is said, peace is not the absence of violence but the presence of justice. If we want peace, we must ensure justice and fairness!

Have a Good Day Mr President…

Tha Scribbler Bah

A concerned Citizen