Gambians Express Frustration as All Ferries Shuttling the Banjul-Barra Route Undergo Maintenance

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By Nelson Manneh

Passengers who used the Banjul – Barra ferry crossing on daily basis have over the weekend express their frustration as authorities at Gambia Ports Authority said they have suspended their ferry service in this seaway.

The Management of the Gambia Ferry Services has on Friday 12th April 2024 issued a press release informing its customers that the Kanilai ferry has been withdrawn from services for repair work with immediate effect.

The press release further indicated that all ferries are currently under maintenance and there will be no ferry services across the Banjul and Barra route until further notice. Meanwhile, travellers and vehicular operators in particular, are advised to use the Senegambia Bridge.

“During this period of services closure, the management will be doing everything possible to restore the Banjul-Barra ferry service as soon as possible. The understanding of the public is highly solicited as these repair works are geared towards providing safe and more reliable ferry services,” the press release stated.

Fatou Nyang a passenger, who lives in Barra and works in Banjul, wondered how they are going to cope with this new development.

“How are we going to cope with this situation? Boats are not reliable means of transport because sometimes you can stand for hours without having a boat to cross,” Nyang told this reporter.

Madam Nyang said since she started using the ferry services on daily basis, this is the first instance that all ferries shuttling the route on a daily basis have ceased operation at the same time.

“We cannot rely on boats to go to work in Banjul. Secondly, boat fares are very expensive when compared to the ferries,” she said.

Lamin Cham, a businessman who lives in Barra and sells at the Albert Market in Banjul, said he used to close work late every day and join the last ferry going to Barra.

“With this current situation I always close my shop by six and rush to the ferry terminal in order to get a boat to cross to Barra. I cannot stay in Banjul till late evening because the boats are not reliable means of transportation,” he said.

Abubacarr Secka, a driver said it will be a nightmare for commercial vehicle drivers transporting passengers to Dakar to drive to Senegambia Bridge in Farafenne and then go to Dakar.

“The government should fast track the maintenance of both farriers and bring them back to service,” he said.

Mr Secka said the authorities should not have allowed this situation to happen in the first place because they were aware of the conditions of the ferries, adding that they should have ensured that one of the ferries is in operation.

Many people who spoke to this reporter at the Banjul ferry terminal express similar frustrations. They urged the government to fast track the maintenance of both farriers and make sure that they start operation as soon as possible.  

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