Thousands of people have signed an online petition to demand the resumption of the ferry service between Dakar and Ziguinchor, the main city of Casamance (south), suspended for more than four months due to political tensions related to the opposition Ousmane Sonko

Dakar (AFP)

We, the users of the ship, demand the immediate resumption of the ferry service between Dakar and Ziguinchor,” says the online petition that was published on October 13 and started by Xavier Diatta, director of an agri-food company based in Ziguinchor.

As of Thursday, it already had more than 3,000 signatories.

Passenger and cargo transport, operated by three ships, has been suspended since June by the Senegalese authorities without an official explanation. The connection was interrupted after deadly riots in Ziguinchor and other cities in the country, following the conviction of political opponent Sonko in a case of inappropriate behavior.

Requested by AFP, the Ministry of Fisheries, which administratively supervises the boats, and the exploitation company (Cosama, privately owned), have not responded. The suspension of the connection was due to "security reasons", a ministry source told AFP on Wednesday.

Since then, «the port of Ziguinchor is practically inactive. The entire economy has stopped. The cost of transportation (by road) has tripled. The prices of products coming from Dakar have increased,” said Mr. Diatta.

We are tired. Selling anything has become a puzzle,” lamented merchant Sira Mané, 37, who sells food products in front of the port of Ziguinchor.

Docker Salif Diédhiou, 51, complains that he no longer works. He claims that he has "returned to the sea" to fish since the boat no longer reaches Ziguinchor.

Casamance is a producer of fish products, fruits and vegetables, which are sent several times a week to Dakar by road or by plane.

After the June riots, Senegalese authorities temporarily suspended public bus line services.

The plane is unaffordable for many people who want to reach this region, where an armed separatist rebellion has been active since 1982 and which is separated from the rest of the country by Gambia.

The opposition Sonko is the mayor of Ziguinchor. He has been detained since late July on various charges, including calling for insurrection; announced on Tuesday that he will resume his hunger strike, which he had interrupted at the beginning of September, in "solidarity" with his "unjustly detained" followers

As a candidate in the February 2024 presidential election, Mr Sonko, 49, accuses President Macky Sall, who is defending himself, of wanting to remove him from the elections through legal proceedings. Mr. Sall, elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2019, announced in early July that he will not run for re-election.

Article source: africaradio