President Jammeh returns from Umra

Monday, September 29, 2008
President Yahya Jammeh, Sunday morning, arrived in Banjul after a five-day religious journey to the Holy Land of Mecca, to perform this year’s Umra.

He was received at the foot of the aircraft by the vice president, Aja Dr Isatou Njie Saidy, secretaries of state, and other high profile dignitaries. Speaking to reporters, shortly after the formal airport ceremonies, the Gambian leader said: "Let me assure Gambians that what I did with the taxi drivers [by bringing in a cheaper and reliable transport system] is what I am going do with butchers or something worse than that. Let them [the consumers] not panic, we have enough cattle to supply the whole market. No negotiation with butchers."

According to the president, the new price set for meat, D80 for steak and D60 for meat and bone is "irreversible". He disclosed that directives have already been given to local authorities to close the canteens of butchers who do not want to comply. To that effect, he said, considering the fact that the abattoir belongs to him, the plan also involves the training of some locals who will then be supplied with meat. He disclosed further that he had earlier on wanted butchers to scale down their prices but that they took it as a joke. He stressed that if he could intervene in the transportation sector, it will be easier with regards to meat.

The president made it abundantly clear that the new price was not limited to beef alone but all kind of meat sold in the local market, contrary to the notion of some butchers that it was limited to beef. "I want the municipal authorities to ensure that there is a general price reduction in all kinds of meat sold in the country. So let them [the defiant butchers] boycott and I will take over the whole market. That’s all I want," he stressed. He indicated that butchers who do not want to comply with the new order are free to leave the country, adding that foreigners will never be allowed to destroy The Gambia.

On the new policy governing the sale of government rice, which allows for one family head per bag at a given time, Dr Jammeh said that the measure was necessary to ensure that dubious activities are not carried out. He made reference to past incidents where individuals had bought rice in bulk only to resell it at a higher price, defeating the government’s intention of providing rice to the populace at a reasonable price.

No official engagement
Commenting on his trip to the Holy Land, Dr Jammeh said he went purposely to worship Allah, and that he had prayed for the good of The Gambia, Africa and the rest of the world. "I did not go for any official engagement, that’s why I did not take any official with me," he said.

Author: by Pa Malick Faye