Taxi scam

Gambia-taxi-scamEvery tourist knows to be careful when choosing a taxi in a country where he not yet familiar with the regular prices of a fare and where the local rules and habits are still unfamiliar. Tourists being overcharged by taxi’s is a worldwide issue (read the Budapest taxi scam), but in Gambia the scam is played by those of whom you’d least expect it, as it’s the travel agents who make sure the excess payment ends up in their pockets.

Some travel agents have made a deal with the local Banjul and Serrekunda taxi companies to overcharge the tourists and split the profit. They warn the tourists upon their arrival in the hotels and resorts straight from the airport not to use any other taxi company than the one they have struck a deal with. They spook the tourists by telling them other taxi companies are uninsured, employ drivers without a driving license and they may be robbed of their valuables. Naturally, every tourist will obey the orders of their tour trusted guide, unsuspicious of the fact they will be charged double or even triple the rate that other taxi companies charge for the same ride. Gambia-taxi-fraudFor example, a 10-minute ride from Kotu to The Strip should cost about 100 Dalasi with a regular taxi, but with the taxi company that the travel agent recommends, it could be as much as 300 Dalasi. You may think that’s still cheap at € 5,50 but considering the average local wage of 100 Dalasi per DAY, it’s a lot of money for the Gambians.

And being uninsured or driving a taxi without a driving license is, even in Africa, not possible. The reality is that most taxi companies are equally good (or bad) in comfort and safety, but there’s only one that pays a commission to the travel agents, giving the agents an incentive to use their perceived trustworthiness to persuade their customers to use only this company.

This scam is very similar to the one run in Jamaica (read our Jamaica taxi scam as well), where it is run by the hotels and resorts rather than the travel agents.

Find experiences from real victims or post your own story in our Banjul and Gambia Tourist Scams Forum.




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