The strike by Gabon’s Customs officers has paralysed the entire chain of distribution at Owendo port in Libreville, worsening the already fragile situation of supply of consumption products to Libreville from the country’s interior regions, well placed sources have said.
Due to lack of delivery documents that are always issued by the Customs officers, containers carrying perishable goods have been parked at the Owendo port for the last ten days. The port is mainly used for transportation of foodstuffs. If a quick resolution of the grievances of the Customs employees is not found, then economic activities will continue slowing down in various sectors, from the big timber business to small scale traders.
Unpleasant consequences are being awaited, especially for the basket of various households. “This strike will severely penalize traders. All these restrictions will cause huge financial losses,” said Philippe Terracher, the technical director of Multipress, the biggest Gabonese printing house.
A number of ships have docked at the Owendo port, causing huge financial losses. “We shall not resume duty unless all our demands have been met,” said Mbatsi who is the secretary general of the National Union of Customs Workers (SNAD). The Customs workers who are members of the SNAD union which has called for the strike, are demanding, among other things, the adoption of a statute that is particular to the Customs workers, improvement of their working conditions, the payment of the various allowances and construction of housing units for union members.
Recently, Gabon’s public works ministry banned transportation of goods using large trucks along Kango bridge situated along national road No. 1, the only important road that links Libreville to the rest of the country. This ban raised fears that there could be a food shortage in the Gabonese capital.