Green taxi vs Yellow taxi in The Gambia


I’m sure that most of the people who travel to the Gambia don’t know before departure that there are two kinds of taxi services: the green taxies the yellow taxies. Once in the Gambia, for days we went on believing that the green ones were the only taxies but after a week in the country we learnt casually that they were specially created for the tourists. Locals used to travel with a yellow taxi and they had no reason to take the green ones as it was highly pricey.  Green taxi stands were located in the touristic areas where the yellow taxies were not allowed at all. That was the reason why most of the travellers needed time before understanding that there were other means of transport out of the green taxies.  All the upper class hotels exposed the green taxi price list by the entrance and when each time we stopped to go through the rates, immediately someone came closer wanting to give more information: we were just drawn to it. Even if we understood perfectly that the prices were quite expensive for the Gambian standard rates, as they were fixed and well exposed we just let it go because there was nothing to discuss about. Twice we tried to bargain but the drivers didn’t go down with the price.

Another important matter we have noticed about the green taxi was that from the first time you take it, that specific vehicle and that specific driver will guide you through the whole vacation. We could hardly avoid on taking decisions about our trips without him. If you give them a chance they will take advantage and decide for you everything. As it was quite impossible to leave the hotel without being seen and thus also being questioned by them, we had to give up. It came a moment that we had to divise plans to escape from the Senegambia touristic area without being caught by the green taxi association.
The turning point came when that day, the Gambian Government suspended the traffic until 1 pm. They do it periodically once a month to reduce the level of pollution therefore the vehicles were not allowed to circulate if not with a specific permit obtained for a special reason. That day the only one thing that the green taxi drivers could do was taking orders for the evening. Anyhow, they still had to make sure that people reserved the taxi for the following days, for the rest of their holidays. In other word they tried strongly to keep the tourist inside the touristic area so that they cannot see or try the yellow taxies. We didn’t want to remain in the hotel so we decided to walk all around the town so we went out from the tourist area.
Therefore we walked along the Senegambia Street ignoring whoever came close to us and reached finally the main street. However, to get away from the hotel we had to fight our way through the hassle. Until 1 pm we have been left free, no one tried to stop us but as soon as it turned one, yellow taxies began to approach. We first ignored them but later, driven by a curiosity we decided to try one. At first they said, more or less, the same price of the green ones but when we refused they started to lower the price and so it was that we went to the paradise beach spending half the money. On our way back from there we learnt something more about the yellow taxies. They had a fixed root and they worked with a sharing system so people could hop on and hop off along the way and the empty seats were filled by anyone along the street wanting to share the trip with others. The price was ridiculous; it was like paying a bus ticket. 
One of the drivers explained that sometimes the green taxi drivers can wait up to 2 or 4 days in the queue system before picking up the tourists. So, when they are seen far from the touristic areas you can actually pick them up at the yellow taxi rates. They don-t seem to do this when in the touristic areas, probably there is someone further up the chain. It was actually an interesting dynamic, even though the whole system needs to be looked at.  It will damage the tourism as many people think the Gambia is expensive when in reality it is a very cheap country when you just move away from the hotel. Why not let yellow taxis enter the tourist areas as well and let the tourists decide?






   




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