Senegalese transporters strike for lower costs, 2012

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Time Period:  
2 January
27 January
Location and Goals
Location City/State/Province: 
Location Description: 
Streets of the capital of Senegal
Reduce petrol prices, reduce insurance fees, reduce interference and harassment, stop President Wade from seeking re-election.

The Republic of Senegal is a key exporter of petroleum products to the rest of the world but gasoline can be very expensive within the country. Most Senegalese people do not own their own motor vehicles and instead rely on public transportation like buses and taxis to travel, especially in high traffic cities like Dakar, the capital. Bus drivers and taxi operators are often obliged to rent their vehicles from companies that require them to pay for repairs and maintenance on their cars in addition to rental fees. As a result, these jobs are often hard and expensive to maintain. In addition to paying for petrol, these transporters also face harassment from corrupt officials who demand fees and bribes.

On 2 January 2012, the national transporters unions went on strike leaving the roads nearly empty as almost every transporter refused to go to work. The unions issued three demands to the government: lower fuel prices, lower insurance rates, and an end to interference and harassment from police and the transport ministry. The near total participation in the strike and the effect it had on daily life in Senegal forced the government to call for negotiations with the unions and the strike was lifted on 4 January.

The leaders of the strike, such as Alassane Ndoye of the National Alliance of Senegalese Workers, met with the Prime Minister and the energy minister Ibrahima Sarr. The strike leaders reported themselves dissatisfied with the government that had the power to meet their demands but did not. The workers threatened to resume striking after the religious holidays of mid January were over if their demands were not met.

Having failed to make their demands met, the transporters unions went on a 72-hour strike on 24 January, again with almost 100% participation. There demands for reduced fees and prices and less harassment remained along with a new political agenda: to stop President Wade from seeking re-election. President Wade, who had been in office since 2000, had promised not to run for a third term in 2007 but rescinded this claim amid much controversy. His administration was heavily criticized for corruption among groups like the transport unions, and their protest was in solidarity with groups that did not want to see him run for office again.

On 27 January, the strike ended and the government did not meet the demands. Wade was approved by the Constitutional Council to run for a third term but was defeated by his opponent Macky Sall; Wade peacefully transferred power in April 2012. Many anti-Wade protests were violent and chaotic, making the transporters strike notable for its nonviolent character. It also inspired a transport strike in Kenya the following month that was also unsuccessful in getting its demands met.

Research Notes

Kenyan transporters later held their own strike the following month (1)

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Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Christopher Capron, 08/12/2012