By Binta A Bah
After one year when Gambian security services arbitrarily shut down the Gambian community radio station, Taranga FM and The Standard Newspaper, president Jammeh has announced the lifting of ban with immediate effects.
Aired on the state broadcaster, GRTS, on New Year’s Eve, president Jammeh lifted the ban ‘for his good will gesture for the new year’ 2014.
Both Taranga FM and The Standard were shut at a time when The Gambia is seeing increasing violations of the right to freedom of expression.
The arbitrary closure according to journalist is an undue interference in freedom of expression by the state and will deprive the Gambian public of their right to access information, especially in local languages.
Taranga FM was shutdown on the night of 14-15 August and The Standard, together with The Daily News received orders to immediately cease operations in September 2012.
Located in Sinchu Alhagie village, southwest of the country’s capital Banjul, Taranga FM was first shut in 2011 after it was warned to stop a programme that translated newspaper reports into local languages and re-opened. In this media-freedom restricted country, Taranga was the only private radio station that broadcast local news – both in English and local languages – to its audience, something the public seemingly appreciate at the time of the closure.
It was a vital tunnel of information that most of the uneducated people rely on for information.
The radio’s regular news programme of reading news published in the local newspapers has attracted growing interest from the public as it serve as the alternative source of news to the state-owned radio, especially for The Gambia’s majority conventionally unlettered people.
Meanwhile, The Daily News remained closed.