Passengers tell GFS to stop risking lives

Passengers tell GFS to stop risking lives

By Cherno Omar Bobb

Travellers plying the Banjul and Barra route have called on the Gambia Ferry Services (GFS) to buy quality ferries that can stand the test of time and stop risking lives of travellers.

The Kanilai Ferry on Friday 12 April 2024  experienced engine failure near the turning buoy en route to the Barra Lander resulting in the Gambia Ferry Services withdrawing it from service for repair works with immediate effect.

The ferry spent several hours unable to reach the Barra Lander from Banjul and finally drifted towards the beach, becoming stuck near the Gambia Fire and Rescue Service Barra Brach.

This resulted in officials including the Chief of Staff, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Defence, Army General, representatives from the National Disaster Management Agency, Ports Management and boat owners among other institutions rushing in a joint effort to the scene to rescue passengers.

The withdrawal of the Kanilai Ferry and the maintenance of the Kunta Kinteh Ferry which has been ongoing since last month mean that there is no ferry service across the Banjul and Banjul route for now.

The unforeseen situation has left travellers with no other option than to cross the Banjul-Barra route vie boats rather than spending hours and cost involved in using the Senrgambia Bridge.

Modou Njie, a frequently traveller, said it has been years since he last crossed the Banjul and Barra route vie a boat, saying conditions forced him to do so as he had to be with his children to ensure they celebrate the Eid-ul fitr with their family in North Bank Region.

He acknowledged that crossing with a boat is risky and challenging for a family as not everyone has the courage to join the boats.

He therefore appealed to the government of The Gambia and the Gambia Ferry Services to remedy the situation within the soonest possible time.

“A lot of people want to cross over to North Bank Region for personal errands and other businesses but cannot because of the unavailability of the ferries,” he said.

“I was really scared joining the same boat with my children,” he further said, noting that if a disaster had happened they could have all died.

He urged the government to either provide new “quality ferries” that would last long or bridge the Banjul and Barra route for the benefit of all.

Yassin Jawara, who also crossed the Barra and Bajul route with her entire family, said the cost involved in crossing with one’s family including luggage is too expensive and times are hard.

She added that it is risky to cross with a boat. “One of my children cried from Barra to Banjul.

Alieu Bah, also a frequent traveller, also urged authorities to either order new ferries or bridge the Banjul and Barra route.

“We suffer a lot crossing by boats. Natives of Nuimi and Badibu suffer the most in the country. Imagine the elderly, women and children being carried on and off the boats. In most cases our clothes are dirty before we reach our destinations,” he complained.

Sainabou Faye, another frequent traveller, said the amount of money the Gambia Ferry Services makes daily can afford a new ferry every six months. She blamed the issue on mismanagement of resources as the reason for lack of good ferries.

“The Gambia Ferry Services do not value the lives of travellers. We are the reason they are operational. We have been patient enough with them and it is time they value our lives and rights to decent crossing,” she queried.


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