By Momodou Jarju
Bai Lamin Jobe, the minister of transport, works and infrastructure has on Wednesday told deputies that the Gambia Ferry Service Company Limited has lost about seventy percent (70%) of its revenue to the Senegambia Bridge during construction period.
Minister Jobe was responding to a question asked by the national assembly member for Upper Nuimi, Omar Darboe who requested an explanation of the fate of the ferry after the full operation of the Senegambia Bridge.
The minister added: “The fate of the ferry services at the crossing is a major concern particularly if all the above-mentioned investments in ferries, infrastructure, subsidy to other ferries and its human capital are demobilized without any mitigating factors to cushion the effects.”
At the moment, Minister Jobe said they are actively looking at the situation.
“This ferry (Senegambia) service was subsidizing other ferry services along the river. So, we have to find ways of means of rechanneling those subsidies from the bridge to those ferry crossings. And two, if there are any need for the demobilized ferries to be used elsewhere, we will use them,” he added. He said they have not concluded the work at the bridge yet.
The bridge formerly called the TransGambia Bridge was launched on 21st January, 2019 and inaugurated by President Adama Barrow. The bridge, with a length of 1.9 kilometers, is one of the biggest in the sub-region and its life span is guaranteed for 100 years by the contractors.
Minister Jobe said the construction of the Senegambia Bridge is a positive development that promotes internal and external movement of goods and services and the benefit cannot be quantified.
The national assembly member for Serrekunda, Halifa Sallah, asked whether the minister would consider establishing a committee to look into the transition in order to reposition the services and its staff in a new dispensation that would be more ideal to handle the situation thereby preparing rather than wait for challenges to overcome the situation.
Minister Jobe agreed to Sallah’s suggestion and said that is what they are doing at the moment, saying they already have one.
Jobe further said they have a serious problem at the bridge because the main contractor experienced some problems, as a result, they found ways to complete the bridge.
Suwaibou Touray, the Wuli East deputy quizzed the minister on when the bridge will start full operation and Mr. Jobe responded in the positive.
“The Senegambia Bridge has not gone to 24 hours operation because there are no lights there”, adding lights have been imported and are on board a ship coming to Banjul.
He added: “They are solar lights and as soon as they are installed, the bridge will be shifted to be used 24/7.”
He emphasized that they are working hard to ensure the bridge works 24 hours.