Ferry Service Company introduces e-ticket services
By Sulayman Waan
The Gambia Ferry Service Company (GFSC) has introduced e-ticket services to expedite accessing of ferry tickets across the country via mobile apps.
A viable electronic ticketing system, the e-ticket is purchased via mobile applications. After the purchase, the ticket is sent directly into the customer’s phone and it is then downloaded through QR Code.
Details of the passenger’s ticket will be secured in the company’s database through encryptions such as PNR [Passenger Current Status Enquiry]. Passengers may purchase their ferry tickets online and will be checked by ferry controllers at the ferry terminal to verify their PR code.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Mamos media, Lamin Jawara, General Manager of GFSC, said: “The new service has been introduced to ensure tickets are easily accessible to our customers. Many commuters have to join long queues to purchase a ticket. As a result, we introduce the e-ticket to make sure tickets are easily accessible to people.”
To start with, in the first phase of the project, the e-tickets are limited to premium service holders and vehicles, the General Manager said.
Moving forward, he added, in the second phase of the project, GFSC would integrate the e-ticket system to electronic payment providers such as NAFA Financial Services, Q-Money, Afrimoney, Supersonicz and APS so that customers could buy e-tickets through their mobile money facilities while away.
This will soon be implemented as GFSC officials are currently working with the mobile money providers to ensure quick and smooth accomplishment of the e-tickets project to the general public, Mr Jawara stated.
Speaking on when the e-ticket will be accessible to the public, he said GFSC would hold on the passenger single ticket until the company finalizes its transactions with the mobile money service providers.
“Using mobile money to purchase the e-ticket is more convenient to the general public,” he said.
“In this service people do not have to come to the ferries to buy tickets, rather can purchase it at their various destinations. You can be in your car and purchase a ticket online and if you come to the terminal you do not need to alight from the car but can just stay in and show your QR Code to our controllers.”
Added Mr Jawara: “This service comes with lots of convenience to commuters. It will also reduce the workload of our salespersons; therefore, this will increase our customer care services.”
Speaking further, the chartered engineer said currently the GFSC is sensitizing commuters on how to use the e-ticket services to ensure people purchase the e-tickets seamlessly.
He also said that the GFSC is working on providing free internet service at all ferry terminals to ensure customers without internet connection are able to connect to the Ferries’ free wifi to purchase the e-tickets.
Passenger waiting room
GM Jawara said the GFSC is currently refurbishing the Banjul passenger waiting room. This refurbishment, he noted, involves providing state of the earth passenger seats at the room, a refreshment stand where customers will purchase food and water before boarding a ferry.
“There will be a television available in the waiting room. In addition, we are going to demonstrate safety protocols inside the passenger waiting room through the televisions, in case there is an emergency in the course of crossing they will know how to wear lifejackets,” he noted.
Toilet facility at Banjul Terminal
In its quest to make life comfortable with standard facilities for the public, the GFSC has completed the construction of a modern toilet facility at the Banjul Ferry Terminal. “We are now working on connecting the sewage to the NAWEC’s sewage system and ensuring that there is adequate water in the facility,” Mr Jawara said.
He described the toilet as an ultra modern facility, saying it is going to be a flush toilet with latest facilities, which will soon be open to the public for use.
Banjul-Albreda proposed ferry
The proposed Banjul-Albreda ferry is still ongoing at management level, Mr Jawara said, adding that the GFCS has now developed a business plan that would undergo a board approval process.
“Once the business plan is approved, we will begin to contact potential vessel providers or to engage potential partners on how to acquire a vessel,” he said.
ADB funds new ferry
Provision of a new ferry at the Banjul-Barra ferry route was part of Gambia Ports Authority’s seaport expansion project funded by the African Development Bank (ADB). In this regard, Mr Jawara said procurement of the new ferry is currently ongoing.
“The procurement of the ferry has to be in line with ADB procurement procedure,” he said. “So, we are currently working with the Bank to finalize the procurement process and the moment the procurement is completed we will sign a contract with a shipyard for final construction of the ferry.”
The deployment of the ferry is expected by the end of 2024, Mr Jawara said, reaffirming GFSC’s commitment to providing reliable, safe, and quick transportation of goods and services at all ferry crossing points.
Calling for public understanding, patience and maximum support to ensuring the institution attain its aspirations, he said: “We want to make the ferry a better place for all.”